Saturday, 20 January 2018

Off Armageddon Reef

David Weber, as many may know, is well known in military science fiction circles as perhaps the preeminent science fiction writer of the 1990s and early 2000s. His works include the standard setting Honor Harrington series, and numerous stand alones such as Out of the Dark and The Apocalypse Troll while also writing numerous series of his own.

In the early 2000s he began work on his Safehold series, which promised to move away from Weber's usual fare of starships and space opera to the more nautical and landlubber area of wooden ships and iron men. Here he began what promised to be an exciting foray into a new world of cannon, swords and muskets. I, having only just finished book 10 of the Honor Harrington series at that point, eagerly dove in to see what he might have to offer in a field I was sure he would know much about.

The question is then, do we find boundless adventure and excitement Off Armageddon Reef?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Minimum Wage Ontario

One of the big topics of the New Year in Canada, or at least Ontario, is the rising minimum wage. Now as of last year the average minimum wage around the country was roughly 11.00$ on the whole, with only the province of Alberta and the territory of Nunavut having wages above 11$ at 13.60$ and 13.00$ respectively.

Ontario's minimum wage hike will be bringing minimum wage from 11.60 to an even 14.00 which means minimum wage workers will be earning about 1.90$ (rounding to 2$) extra in their paycheck. Then the next year it will rise to 15$ on the nose. This will make Ontario the highest paying province when it comes to minimum wage.

The question of course, is that a good thing?

You will find varying answers to this.

On one hand many people act as though this will destroy small businesses and send prices sky high in ways that are unimaginable. Some say that this will probably only inconvenience businesses slightly and make the workers richer. Personally, I think the truth is somewhere in the latter end of the conversation.

One of the most immediate effects it seems has been to bring Tim Hortons into conflict with the Labor Ministry in Ontario as they attempt to cut worker benefits to "compensate" for a pay raise. I have heard that rather than being the actions of a few "rogue managers" as Tim Horton's parent company Restaurant Brands International, claims, this is the norm across the board. It seems that this is taking place across Ontario as the company (or at the very least managers) gets greedy. Or perhaps, they're merely not as efficient at running their stores as they might otherwise have people believe.

This has been the biggest piece of news (especially with how quick the company is to do it) but with this pay hike being new, it might have made more sense for franchises to wait before pulling benefits. With other businesses though, the news seems to be taking longer to filter in as some companies seem to be hedging their bets. Undoubtedly this will raise labor costs (especially for small businesses) across the province. Indeed it seems that some have already complained that it will. Though it also comes with a litany of other advantages for employees across the board.

What we should really ask, is will this be good for the economy? Recent studies, done in 2015 and in 2016 have shown that, in all likelihood, yes it will. Job rates are probably not going to go down, and minimum wage workers will most likely be able to afford to do more with their purchasing power. Over the course of the wage raises this will mean that the average worker will be able to invest more in the economy, and productivity could even go up as workers are simply able to afford more. Which we should see as an overall boon.

Forecasting economic productivity though, is like reading so many tea leaves, and it is impossible to say for sure. Though I'm sure the average worker will be asking themselves, what could I do with even a few extra dollars from my wallet? Hopefully, that will be the question businesses ask as well.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A New Year

This is a follow up to my own short post welcoming the New Year back in 2017. Now I have flown some 16,000km to return home, readjust to how cold a Canadian winter after experiencing some Australian head (during a cold snap no less) and have to adjust to my writing once again.

2017 was, thankfully, not like the Year of the Reaper that was 2016. It contained many highs, and many lows. On a personal level I know I can say that easily, and for a certainty many others can as well. No doubt many of us are glad 2017 is over, and are hoping 2018 can bring bigger and better things.

Like my new Hunter S. Thompson look.
Now what can I say about 2017 personally?

Well I have published, for free, my own short story here, and will hopefully be able to publish more in 2018. That was a big step for me as now hundreds have read my little story and I hope more will (if I can advertise it enough) as time goes on. I aim to publish another short story for 2018, or maybe two, and hopefully get a little short story collection put together for self-publishing, either this year or in 2019.

In blogging I've gotten back on the horse (so to speak) and have been able to keep the views coming and manage this blog with some interesting comments and reviews, and I hope I can do more of that. Thankfully I've been able to do reviews for people I know, and some new and old authors that I love. It is nice to see the indie authors I know publishing and being published, and it is also nice to see this blog grow as I go.

My Facebook page has actually grown too, which is wonderful. I've learned that thanks to some less than savory practices, it is less useful for garnering attention, but what can one do? I intend to keep it around so people who do find it can like it and see what I post and share when I choose to.

I also joined Twitter this year.

It was more in response to recent events, but I've found its a useful platform to follow fellow bloggers and authors I like, while keeping myself mildly up to date on what goes on in the world. My mornings now usually consist of trawling Twitter to see the news while also examining the BBC over a nice cup of tea. Helps me keep informed in the world and start my mornings right.

The plan for 2018 is to keep this blog alive, write, and hopefully make headway in my personal and professional life. How successful that will be, well who knows? Hopefully you will join me in this endeavor and read the insightful insipid nonsense I enjoy posting on here and maybe you'll enjoy it too!

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Welcome 2018

What shocks me is that I will have an extended period of time to welcome 2018. I will spend my time on a plane flying well over 16,000 kilometers to return home, then will probably celebrate New Years in an airport terminal.

What a year this has been. I'll have more to say on it later, but for now all I can say is good bye to the Pacific, and good bye 2017.

Saturday, 23 December 2017

The Tiger's Daughter

I had plenty of time on my flight to Australia to indulge in some new reading, and I decided to do that by reading one of the most intriguing books of 2017. That would be the new fantasy novel, The Tiger's Daughter, by K Arsenault Rivera.

The book is supposed to be the opening novel of a series (Their Bright Ascendancy) and as an opener, it does a good job of reeling you in.

I was attracted to the novel for a number of reasons. The first is because I heard it was a novel with a series of main characters who were lesbians, which as the premise of a fantasy novel is in and of itself unique. The second is that it is set in a fantasy Asian setting which I do think needs to be used more in fiction, and so gravitated towards it. The third reason is that it is told largely as an epistolary novel which is intriguing to me as there are many ways such a format can be played with.

As such I decided to dive right in.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Dangerous Moderation

Now readers, I normally don't like to comment on issues directly pertaining to the alt-right or radical left since I don't want to help disseminate their views, since this is not a zero-sum game. Here however, someone who is directly in my generation is engaging in some appalling hypocrisy so she can peddle ideas I find morally abhorrent. So briefly, I shall highlight one modern alt-right commentator I have seen over the last two years, and would like use this as an example why I don't subscribe to any of the ideologies on the extreme end of the political spectrum.

I will note that I will not link directly to any of the commentators material (I will not give them exposure that way) but will provide links to where I learned more about this issue. Starting with this Salon article on the subject.

Recently, notable alt-right commentator Lauren Southern posted a video on her Youtube account where she lamented recent attacks (or trolling) by members of her own movement against her perceived hypocrisy of preaching traditional values, and not following them herself. Of course, she asked for amnesty from her followers pleading that she was "only 22" and needed time to sort her life out, and might not be ready to get married and have kids, or even know her place in the world yet. This of course, despite many happy years of denying similar choice or amnesty to transgender persons, rape victims, and her ideological enemies. In effect, she has undertaken some special pleading to exonerate herself from the toxic attitude towards women that members of her own community regularly espouse, while seeking to continue to belittle and deride women who are her ideological enemies, despite those very same women wanting the same things she wants.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Change in My City

Change is sometimes dramatic, but it is often a subtle thing. The change I noticed yesterday was probably not overly dramatic, but definitely a very subtle part of the changing nature of this beautiful city of Ottawa.

Since I have lived here there has always been the light rail system. It was a constant companion to my movements for many years and helped me go in a rather limited series of directions up and down the city. They are building a new Confederation Line now to help move people to the other end of the city, which should be interesting, if still yes useful than our bus system.

However, for the longest time you didn't really have to pay for the train. There were ticket stations, but most people ignored them (and students didn't have to pay), meaning people usually just wandered on to the train. I often figured that the city probably lost a fortune on that deal. It seems though, that with the construction of this new line under way the city is looking to recoup some of that lost revenue. Part of me thinks that it is about time the city got around to this since it will be making them money, but another part is sad to see that almost anarchist system of train fare go by the wayside.

Now this isn't a big deal, as the train does need money. I just happen to remember when you could just walk down to the tracks like it was no big deal and not have to worry about anything getting in the way and hop on the train without much fuss. At the station I most often got on there was a dirt path worn down by countless feet that had scurried down that little hill running to catch a train. It's a nostalgic thought, but one which I hold fondly on to.

It is nice to see the city generating some additional revenue with these machines, and it will be fascinating to explore it on the new line as well. However, I couldn't help but reflect on the change that this has wrought, even in the smaller ways.

Change really is fascinating.