Things That Annoy Me – Part 18

83.) Canadian Conservatives In The Era Of Justin Trudeau

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84.) The Canadian Tarsands Oil Delusion

Since Harpers ousting from the prime ministerial position back in 2015, Canada has not been the same.

We’re deeper in debt than ever before. Too many immigrants coming over the border, all of which get free room and board at MY expense. There are help and assistance programs available for every class but MINE, the hard working. We’re already paying out the ass for everything, and now we get this carbon tax thrust on us too! And the pipeline bullshit. . . our economy NEEDS a pipeline!

If Trudeau wins in October, this country is BANKRUPT.

It has never been a worse time to be a middle class conservative Canadian of means. In the digital realm and the physical realm, from sea to shining sea, the agonized cries of the downtrodden rightwingers is impossible to avoid. Short of moving to Alert, Nunavut.

Being a millennial, I’ve only been on this rock for 30 years worth of politics, only 12 to 13 of them in which I actually paid attention. Most of that time was under conservative leadership, though I do remember a bit of Chrétien. What I don’t remember, however, is this level of partisanship ever being against one leader.
But Pierre Trudeau wasn’t a popular man in these parts. It’s, therefore, no surprise that many of his detractor’s parents seem to be following suit. It would seem, in lockstep.

At work. Out with friends. With people I know. Hell, even with random people I meet. I haven’t met ONE Trudeau criticism that didn’t seem ripped straight out of a social media meme. Frankly, a meme that very possibly may not have even originated in Canada. They aren’t just targeting The US and Brexit, after all. It’s EVERYONE.

Given that the generation I am speaking of grew up without any ability to critically filter incoming information, this result is unsurprising.

Having said that, however, STILL not even ONE non-regurgitated critique? Really?

So much for the wisdom of our elders.

I myself, am not 100% pro-Trudeau. The man has followed his word in some respects (like marijuana legislation), but in others, he has been just…idiotic. One of those decisions being the purchase of the trans-mountain pipeline. At a time when all economic signs are showing worldwide petroleum driven companies and economies transitioning to more renewable (or diverse) investment mixes, the time to bet on tar is NOT now.

No, NOT oil. It’s TAR.

It has to be processed even before it can enter a pipeline or tanker, then AGAIN at the receivers end. Canadian petroleum isn’t just limited by its inability to reach so-called Asian customers. . . it’s limited because it’s GARBAGE.

Places like Texas and other sweet crude producers can get top dollar because they have a good product. From the ground, it can be refined into pretty much any petrochemical derivative. Very little money spent getting it to market. As opposed to the costs of first separating the tar and sand, then shipment. And of course, the discount is given to the customer because. . . it’s garbage.

My explanation is painfully brief. It’s without reference to source material. It’s like, pretty much every anti-Trudeau argument I’ve come across.

I didn’t show my work, how I am coming to this VERY controversial conclusion. However, it is based around various observations of worldwide happenings. The biggest developing nations advancing renewables at a rapid and expanding pace. Electric vehicles making HUGE gains (and therefore shedding cost) in 2017 and 2018 consecutively. Traditionally fossil fuel invested economies and companies diversifying into tourism, and electric utilities.

Dubai. Abu Dhabi.

These are not just cities built on the riches of petroleum. They are an investment. An attempt to establish a series of Las Vagas-esk destinations to turn the middle east into a tourist playground.

The only places on earth that seem to have not gotten the memo on this are the coal supporting Southern States of the US, and Alberta. And the only bitumen supporters that don’t seem to have a view built on pablum and propaganda, are industry insiders and bay street investors! People that exist in a bubble as a matter of putting food on the table, and people that can’t see past the next quarter.

It’s a pipe dream (oh the irony). And the longer Alberta and Canada continues throwing all their eggs into one single basket whilst falsely claiming it to be the only path to a better, more sustainable Canada, the worse off the crunch will be.

There is still activity happening in the industry. New facilities are coming online, and current players are continuing operations. However, since the window between securing funds and breaking ground is generally around 5 to 7 years, it will take a few years for the stagnation to become apparent. The industry isn’t going away instantly (investors have to make good on their investments). However, new development is getting scarce. And old development is starting to pull out, little by little.

Of course, many will likely point to the lack of access to a market argument as a reason for this. Possibly. However, any company with a board of directors that has any sense of the direction of world innovation can see where the winds are blowing. And as production facilities and refineries start to age to the point of being money pits of obsolescence, you will see even more pull out.

It will take more than that to falter the Canadian producers (the delusion is strong, from bottom to boardroom). However, a world economy increasingly rejecting their product in favour of easier to work with varieties of cheaper and cheaper sweet(er) crude will be a sign that NO ONE will be able to ignore, for long. It’s not going to happen overnight. But I have no doubt that this is EXACTLY where we are headed.

In a sense, the province of Alberta has become Canada’s equivalent to that annoying child who keeps screaming at their parent for not buying them a toy that they want. Only rather than giving a stern “NO!” answer and proposing something more healthy to the entirety of the nation, most of us collectively just. . . listen. Listen as people thrown out of work by a worldwide oil price drop (bitumen costs money to process and thus needs price inflation to be profitable. Was this REALLY the best long term strategy for an entire regions economy?) complain about being cast aside by economic cycles. YES, it’s happened before.
Some Albertans even dangle in the face of other Canadians the fact that Alberta is a Have province, essentially arguing that they are like the hardworking taxpayer supporting the other welfare queen provinces of the Canadian federation.

It’s easy to say that now, from their perspective. However, 25, 35, 40 years from now, I can foresee a WHOLE lot of abandoned and rotting former tarsands infrastructure that the Alberta (and Canadian!) taxpayers are going to be stuck with dealing with. Because when companies go bankrupt, they aren’t liable for the mess they leave behind. The fictional corporate entity simply disappears, with a few well-placed entities getting invested cash back, but most walking away empty handed. Leaving governments (socialism!) to clean up the expensive, toxic mess.

As much as Canada’s provincial equivalent to Donald Trump annoys me, I don’t WANT Alberta to become a gigantic toxic combination of Detroit and Appalachia. However, it comes with the territory of allowing a giant economic entity to bring riches to your region. If they restructure or fold, YOU clean up the mess. YOU are stuck with the inevitable social erosion of a community filled with obsolete workers.

Back to Trudeau.

While we all know how much this country hates the guy, it’s the perfect post to take a parent stance on idiots and the reactionary public.

Get your heads out of your collective asses and listen!

Massive spending on renewables, level 3 charging stations from coast to coast, subsidies for the sale and manufacture of EV’s in Canada. We don’t need your stagnant and ultimately bad for job creation abortion to future generations to pave the way to a better tomorrow!

But of course, that won’t happen. Because he is in the corporate status quo too. Why he bought trans-mountain. And why he’s currently entangled in the SNC Lavalin mess that may cost him the election in October.

I’m not a huge Trudeau supporter anymore, because he seems more neo-liberal than anything else. Credit I will give for bringing marijuana out of the realm of stupid and into the realm of personal freedom. However, he’s not been without his fair share of disappointments.

Having said that though, I may well vote for him just on the chance that he may well GET re-elected. While the NDP might have promise, they generally don’t have a hope in hell of gaining the PMO position. And since Andrew Scheer offers NOTHING but boomer pablum to a generation that will be gone in 20 to 30 years, such a seemingly silly vote is not so silly after all.

85.) People That Add Faith To Their Name On Social Media

Julie Faith Lee-Chalmers.

Give me a break. As though all the annoying and judgy memes didn’t already give it away.

Here’s a tip. . . stop telling us, and start ACTING THE PART. Yes, it’s a strawman. But in my anecdotal experience, the loudest Jesus freaks tended to also be the most full of shit.

86.) Bureaucrats Who Complain About Problems They Helped Create

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/cannabis-beer-fielding-1.5042722

The legal sale of cannabis has vaporized more than $6 million worth of provincial beer sales, Manitoba’s finance minister claimed as he continued to predict no net revenue from recreational weed.

Almost six months after Canada legalized the sale of recreational cannabis, Manitoba is not expecting to make a profit off the new industry, Finance Minister Scott Fielding said Monday.

We knew this was coming. Hell, it was news around THE WORLD that Canada was legalizing marijuana. The private sector saw the opportunity and begun preparing YEARS ahead of the legislation date. The biggest hurdles were with bureaucratic red tape.
Provinces that ran with the change were more or less ready for the legislation, so they are now doing fairly well. The provinces that choose to apparently hope this fad just went away,  are now WAY behind. Causing shortages in supply that may take years to overcome, and a bottleneck in the ability to get the product to market. Because many of the outlets STILL aren’t ready!

Expenditures related to legal cannabis will outpace revenue from its sale for years, said Fielding, who declined to say whether the province will make any cannabis revenue projections in the provincial budget expected on Thursday.

He also suggested any cannabis profits could be offset by reduced beer sales, based on Colorado’s experience following legalization.

“When cannabis is introduced to a marketplace, what actually happens is beer sales goes down. We anticipate that our beer sales are going to go down by upwards of $6 million dollars,” Fielding told reporters at the Manitoba legislative building.

It would seem that a good time to be dealing with all of these expenses would be when we’re still dealing with maximum cash flow. Whilst we’re still selling beer, get this taken care of. So the hit in the balls when people transition from one to the other isn’t so pronounced.

Or . . . bitch and complain when the obvious happens.

What are conservatives good for if not crying about problems they themselves helped spearhead.

*cough*

TARSANDS!

87.) Password Managers & Incompetent Web Admins

I’ve been online long enough to see the increased sophistication in terms of the ways in which people are unwittingly getting bitten by security vulnerabilities. From unlawfully obtained data dumps to good ole brute force tactics, simple (and most importantly, SHARED!) passwords are no longer effective. One may as well just use a single or double character password for the amount of protection one is getting from password or 123456. Hell, single, double, or triples may be even MORE SECURE than the above, because no one could possibly be dumb enough to use use as their password, surely!

In reality, passwords should have been left in the dust a LONG time ago. A relic of a bygone era wherein everyone logged into dumb terminals, which relied on a networked host computer for anything outside of data inputs.
I learned this from Steve Gibson, host of the fascinating, terrifying and altogether complex (at least for those outside of the realm of IT) podcast called Security Now. He also is in the process (and has nearly completed) a potential replacement to the password called SQRL. Since I’m not confident that I can boil down the entire process, I’ll let Steve do the explaining.

  • The QR code presented near the login prompt contains the URL of the authentication service for the site. The URL includes a securely generated long random number so that every presentation of the login page displays a different QR code. (In crypto circles this long random number is known as a “nonce.”)

  • The smartphone’s SQRL authentication app cryptographically hashes the domain name of the site keyed by the user’s master key to produce a site-specific public key pair.

  • The app cryptographically signs the entire URL contained in the QR code using the site-specific private key. Since the URL includes a secure long random number (the nonce), the signature is unique for that site and QR code.

  • The app issues a secure HTTPS POST query to the QR code’s URL, which is the authentication service for the site. The POST provides the site-specific public key and the matching cryptographic signature of the QR code’s URL.

  • The authenticating web site receives and acknowledges the POST query by returning a standard HTTP “200 OK” with no other content. The SQRL app acknowledges the successful submission of the user-signed QR code.

  • The authenticating site has the URL containing the nonce which came back from the login page via the user’s smartphone. It also has a cryptographic signature of that URL, and the user’s site-specific public key. It uses the public key to verify that the signature is valid for the URL. This confirms that the user who produced the signature used the private key corresponding to the public key. After verifying the signature, the authenticating site recognizes the now-authenticated user by their site-specific public key.

    https://www.grc.com/sqrl/sqrl.htm

Like everything else in the tech realm, the behind the scenes stuff is beyond the grasp of most, but the actual experience is smooth and simple. Otherwise known as, completely the opposite experience to ANY password manager I’ve ever used so far.

Since I do this (a blog about all kinds of topics that tend to get under peoples skin), and just because of the increasingly hostile online world that we live in, I figured that strong passwords were the way to go. I started with the simple but effective method that is having 3 hard copies (written, not typed, and thus kicking around in my machine’s memory somewhere) stored in safe places. I would update (change passwords) every 5 or 6 months. Then I graduated to the password manager Keeper, which stored all my passwords (and self-generated stronger ones) for $30 a year. I later found LastPass which had a free version which has all of this functionality without the cost.

With both, you store your passwords in a vault which is decrypted by your master password (the only password you have to remember). I don’t have any issue with that. However, the apps and add-ons for your various devices which store the passwords in your vault locally (enabling the auto-filling of password fields) are notoriously unsynced.
For Keeper, changing passwords on the laptop never seemed to transfer to vaults in other devices. Which seen me have login issues EVERY SINGLE TIME. LastPass I thought was better, but it seems to be the issue in reverse. Since I’m just starting out in Windows again (and was previously inputting from Android devices into LastPass), now the local Windows app doesn’t have all the passwords!

It is recommended and more secure to use the local vault instead of remotely accessing the vault online. And that method is certainly handier. If only it were as smooth an experience in practice as it is in theory.

Users and representatives of both products named here, am I doing something wrong? Feel free to comment below.

The next set of issues has nothing to do with password managers themselves. It is strictly on the administrators of websites.

The first is having websites disable the paste option in form fields. While it gives the illusion of better security for its users (it’s not as easy to cut and paste copied data), it makes the use of password managers a gigantic pain in the ass. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to get around this in both Firefox and Chrome (switching a setting in Firefox and downloading an extension in chrome). And yet another thing that functional password managers SHOULD eliminate.

Another bane of my digital existence are websites that have stupidly annoying password policies.

  • maximum length (often painfully short)
  • a single number allowed
  • a single symbol allowed
  • maximum length requirement, but is undisclosed

Thankfully, most of the biggest platforms one is likely to use on a daily basis will accept whatever long string of soup you throw at them. Unfortunately, the worst offenders for this nonsense also tend to be the services that you want to keep the tightest grip on. Banking, credit cards, telecommunications and others. Places where good security standards need to be PARAMOUNT, also don’t make this an easy task to accomplish.

This rant is in a category called Things That Annoy Me. In reality, though, this issue actually pisses me off. The incentive should NOT be geared towards making people say “Fuck it! Who would want to hack me anyway?”. Whilst password choice DOES indeed fall on the individual, most of the players involved don’t make doing the right thing easy.
Would mandated legislation regarding passwords and security promotion help bring a more manageable standard? Would the thought of it scare enough platforms into compliance without the need for regulation?

One thing is for sure…SQRL cannot be finished soon enough. If its as good a protocol as the people around Steve seem to think it is, then I can’t wait for mass deployment. I should note that such permeation is at current, akin to wishful thinking. But I have to keep my fingers crossed.

Because the alternative is FUCKING GARBAGE!

88.) People Who Think I Over Analyze Everything

It was an innocent enough conversation. I, in true ME fashion, was mocking the so-called stated values of the company for which I am employed. I don’t remember what they are off the top of my head, but integrity is one of them. Which is a real laugh, even without the other 3. Naturally, one of my good co-workers mentioned that I’m just over analyzing things. It’s been years, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard before.

Though this is the mindset of the average person (going with the flow is the easy option), imagine the trajectory of human innovation if we all followed the same logic. The first obvious thing to note is that it is NOT a good status quo for business. Particularly in these changing times.
In fact, I give my current workplace about 5 years. It’s run seemingly without considering the impact of inefficiency or current competition (let alone what the future will bring). Given that a similar store to mine has been driven under in a similar market to this one, it’s not a concern without merit. My company may offer an excellent pension plan, but what good is that if the outlet won’t last that long?!

My location operates like this. The regional division of the company I work for operates like this. The national parent company of mine operates in this way. Hell, given the mass support in the Western provinces that Alberta has amassed for a pipeline, a huge chunk of the country operates like this.

This can be condensed down to essentially baby boomer logic. Which seems to equate “This is how it’s always been done, so this is the best path forward”. From corporate boards to governments, this mentality still reigns supreme. And as long as these minds still have influence, this mentality will continue infecting up and coming generations as well. Kids that are guilty of simply following the old adage that is respect and listen to your elders. Despite the fact that doing so may well spell the end of life as we know it. Lights out.

How convenient that most of these elders have maybe 25 to 30 years left. If they are wrong, it dosesn’t matter!

This blog is filled with posts concluding with predictions (given current trends of the time), and even alternative conclusions to the current accepted context. Things that I had written about back in 2013,2014, 2015 often have started to show up in the mainstream, though often times as WAY bigger issues than I had imagined.
My fear that an overly micromanaged digital existence may be causing people to develop false perceptions of reality manifested in the 2016 electoral fiasco’s. It wasn’t just a potential problem, it was a zero-day.

It’s not a matter of me over analyzing things. It’s a matter of YOU people not being analytical enough. Given the trajectory of our path as a species, this nonsense had BETTER stop soon. Or no one is going to be mindlessly dragging their feet into any form of tomorrow (let alone a better tomorrow).

89.) Laundromat Logic

I don’t know about in other cities around Canada (and the world), but the logic of laundromats here perplexes me. Every single one in town has more washing machines than dryers. The difference ranges from one or two to 10+ more. Not a problem that anyone thinks about until the day they happen upon 2 families that do laundry once a decade. Or as happened today, when one family takes up every dryer but takes fucking forever to unload and fold up their shit. Even after my 2 loads were done after 45 minutes, they were STILL folding their stuff one at a time. Completely oblivious to the fact that they were holding all the dryers AND the hampers hostage.

I guess the moral of the story is this . . .

If you decide to do all your laundry at once at a busy laundromat when you only do laundry twice a year, you’re an asshole.

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