Archive | May 2013

Blog update. 28 May 2013

Good morning readers (morning out here on the west coast), I thought I would update you on the current status of the blog and perhaps – perhaps – propose some ideas in today’s update. Starting things off here; I am still alive. Currently my time has been eaten up by things that require me to be away from this wonderful machine of mine, and as a result content may have slipped off into a holding pattern in orbit – so to speak. Fear not, I have some topics I want to cover later on this week, but for now you will just have to be patient.

Another source of distraction I have been – quite enjoyably – dealing with is Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. Now this game was released in 2011, but I have not had the pleasure of sinking time or money into the title, until this week. My god is it amazing! I’ve only done one questline – the Skyrim Civil war specifically – and I am quite happy with what Bethesda Softworks has done with the series. The storyline and the world are quite believable, and as a result I have found it fairly enjoyable to sink hours into the game. The best thing about the title is the fact that you can do whatever you want. I have barely touched the main storyline, and that is fine! The game doesn’t force you to tackle the main storyline, and you are free to wander the snowy peaks of Skyrim for eternity.

Planetside 2, oh yes that devil of a game; well it has certainly eaten up some time, mainly because I have been playing with a high school buddy of mine. The game is…..well it is okay, but it has lost a lot of its’ freshness after the whole ultimate empire showdown finished off last January. Now the game itself – and the server I was previously on – has fallen into the reserve status as more triple A titles, and new devices, hit the market. While the game itself is still quite enjoyable, it can get repetitive as the war on Auraxis will never end – story wise and gameplay wise – as there is a re-spawn system in place which effectively means, soldiers never die, and they can keep fighting over the same objectives day in and day out. No boundaries shift, no capitals are lost; just the never-ending grind of war. Now I am not complaining here, I am a man of war: but it would be nice to see some variety here and there, like aircraft carrier fighting, rather than just a ground-pounder war.

Content for the blog (yes I am aware I have procrastinated through this update ); Quebec politics isn’t going anywhere, and neither am I. Though in truth, I am starting to look towards other interesting stories related to Canada, and broaden my provincial and territorial viewership, rather than remain focused on the issues surrounding Quebec. Yes I still adore the province, but ultimately one province does not make up an entire nation. The ideas I am considering are to cover some stories from other key provinces of my choosing; perhaps to add some perspective to national affairs?

Either way, Quebec may not hold the ” I am important” mantle for long on this blog; I hear some good stories are popping up in my province of British Columbia surrounding the elections, so I may – may – cover that. However stories from the games industry and Quebec will not stop dead in their tracks; I will still produce them. Yet they may be marching alongside other stories from around the country as I continue to expand and develop my blog: I hope you all will come along for the ride. Do not worry, I promise there will be no bandits or warewolves: but if there are, machine guns, pistols, crossbows, swords, and grenades are in the back: use them wisely.

Anyways folks that concludes this update: tune in this weekend for some stories and topics from the usual sources of interest. The name of the writer has been Vince, and he shall see you next time.

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Telegraphed Gazette: Column. May 18/19 2013

MaroisNational Assembly of Quebec

Greetings readers, and welcome to another edition of the Telegraphed Gazette’s column segment: this week we will explore Quebec’s political situation and estimate what future trends will be in the near future; specifically the next 4 years. The Telegraphed Gazette originally was created for news specifically from Montreal, and the games industry. Among many other things, the primary news that I focused in on was news related to Quebec’s politics – as many of my veteran readers are aware – which happen to circulate around two pillars: independence, and the French language.

Independence has always been the incumbent party’s main objective: their name declares it so, and their leaders as well. Quebec for the past 30 or so years has gone through cycles of independence referendums and talk of separation. There are even militia groups in rural Quebec that claim that they will fight for the newly independent nation should the need arise. However, realistically they are merely gun-wielding civilians who lack any formal training in weapons handling and tactics. The only real threat they will pose is to a persons’ well cut lawn in the sense that they will run around and do push-ups on the grass instead of on the pavement. The idea is appealing when it comes to joining a militia: you are fighting for the people no doubt. The idea of independence is equally romantic; no doubt stories to woo the girls and to make boys raise their voices in a unified roar. Yet the reality is that independence is very costly, and without financial support – in the form of the transfer payments from Ottawa – the Quebec government may find itself cutting spending rather quickly when the funds dry up. Right now there are many political parties in Quebec who understand the political atmosphere, and who have their own agendas for the province; many of whom will slit each other’s throats at first opportunity.

Historically – at least in relation to the rebellions of 1837 and 1838, to the October crisis in the 1970s – Quebec has battled against the government for autonomy of any sort and citing cultural and/or linguistic differences as the main factor. The province itself does not always see eye to eye on issues as the rest of Canada does, and when it comes to their own self-determination, this is even more the case. The province likes to think it is independent; indeed her politicians speak as though they are, and the youth who are motivated by the cause are in the same boat. Yet I would like to put forth this statement: You are part of Canada, and as a member of this family we will love you until the day the thirteen of us – ten provinces three territories – pass into the mists of time. We will never let you bleed yourself to death because you are family, and such we will do what we can to preserve this union.

Now when it comes to language, French is the main vernacular of the province, and has been for hundreds of years. Therefore it is without question that the province try everything it can to protect its language from extinction: though whether or not it is going extinct is highly debatable. The politics of Quebec revolve around language almost as much as independence with the two often intertwined in debates during provincial elections. Parties wishing to garner votes from the independence or Quebec cultural bloc always link the two as the key aspects of the province, and would swear to protect it from the sea of English – as some would dub it. There is no doubt in my mind that French is the main language of the province, and safe from foreign influence. Now I am aware that there are many factors that determine viability, but let me use my recent experience in the BC provincial election as an example. The voter demographic was very diverse on Election Day, and when I asked for identification and supporting documents, all voters were able to reply in full, regular sentences – accents varying. After a twelve hour shift – in my mind at least – I have concluded that English is safe and that all migrants coming to Canada will learn the language as they integrate into the greater Canadian society. Going back to Quebec, migrants who settle in Quebec – while retaining their immigrant language through parents etc – will often speak in French while in public. Their motivation to speak French is quite simply really: Quebec is a French-speaking province, and as such – unless they are tourists – French will echo through the streets like there is no tomorrow. Thus it is in their best interest – should they wish to make a future in the province – to learn and speak the language.

Yes when I take the bus I hear other languages: so? We are a nation of immigrants, and I am certain that over two hundred years ago Gaelic was spoken in areas which saw the largest migration of Irish and Scottish peoples. We all will hear various sounds and vernaculars in our lifetimes, but to be naive as to think that French is in danger? Really now people, government services and schools are not going to burn the French language to the ground. However, I do agree with some of the French language laws such as bill 101 which make French the main official language of the province. Being a little selfish is how anything will get done; the RCMP does so with the relocation of their members to postings where manpower is needed the most, the military does it, and so will various government agencies. Nevertheless, the language is not in danger of disappearing, but it is how politics in Quebec is played.

Quebec is part of Canada, and no matter how misbehaved it is, we will love it unconditionally much like a parent loves their child unconditionally – situations may differ of course. Quebec’s political scene shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon, and the two pillars of language and independence will not simply go away anytime soon so long as there are drummers to drum to the beat of the two pillars. Some may ask is independence likely? The reply is: “no it is not.” Cost to benefit ratio is not in favor of independence, and Quebecers have stated twice – though admittedly by a narrow margin – that they would rather be a large province than a small country, as partition can occur if independence were to occur. Firstly the western half of Montreal would stay with Canada, as would a massive chunk of Northern Quebec – due mostly to the English-speaking, and aboriginal-language speaking, aboriginal population. The Bilingual region south of the St. Laurence River would stay with Canada, leaving the newly minted nation of Quebec essentially a city-state. Regarding the status of the French language, many young Canadians – especially the more “ambitious ones” – are becoming more and more bilingual in French and English, sometimes even trilingual. However like the recent thirty or so years, language and independence are key pillars in Quebec politics, and probably will continue to shape the political scene for a few more years depending on who is in charge of the various parties in the National Assembly. Such is the nature of things. This concludes this edition of the Telegraphed Gazette’s Column section: my name has been Vince, and I will see you next time.

Tywin Lannister: the realms most prized figure

Greetings my dear readers: today I am doing a bit of a review on a character I have come to admire in recent years; Tywin Lannister. Yes my readers, I keep track of the series A Song of Fire and Ice, or Game of Thrones as it is more commonly known. Tywin Lannister is a fascinating character from the book series: A Song of Fire and Ice – or as it is known currently, Game of Thrones. The persona of Tywin is that of a no-nonsense figure who is trying to keep order amidst a sea of chaos; mostly done so by his grandson who is the current king according to the television series. Now Tywin may seem brutal to some, but I find this attitude of getting straight to the point quite refreshing in a world where often people seem to lose themselves quite quickly. Tywin is an experienced field commander, he is a competent Hand of the King, and he is capable of dealing with people diplomatically when needed, or brutally when needed.

Tywin is no stranger to war as he has fought in numerous campaigns in his lifetime. That battlefield experience has made him into a hardened commander capable of making decisions quickly and decisively with little hesitation. His use of his knights and fellow commanders is – for the most part – calculated and to the strength of each commander at his table. When Robb Stark of Winterfell went south to wage war against the King incumbent, Tywin immediately set out to crush the rebellion in the name of the realm: though in all honesty the fighting was started when Tywin’s son was seized by a Stark. Nevertheless, when Robb was beginning to prevail, Tywin realized this, and made several key tactical decisions that would ultimately play into his hand and land him the position of Hand of the King once more. Tywin also respects initiative and intelligence as evidence with his interaction with Arya Stark who at the time was posing as a boy when she was captured by one of Tywin’s bannermen.

Tywin’s diplomatic skills are also a handy asset to the throne as his ability to not only keep the king himself at bay but also engineer a plot – according to the books – is something worth rewarding with recognition. Tywin is a man of truth, and when people claim that dragons on the other side of the world were an immediate threat, he simply waved them off and dismissed the rumors as nothing but talk; as he did White Walkers and Wildlings. Though the reader/viewer will know the truth; in Tywin’s eyes, talk of Dragons on the far side of the world and White Walkers in the far north beyond the wall are like rumors of a possible war in Mongolia, or a long lost exiled president of the United States seeking to reclaim congress one day from his distant home in the Antarctic. Tywin will only worry about something when it is appropriate; otherwise he is focused on the task at hand and seeks to complete the task before moving onto something else.

The actor who portrays Tywin – I must confess I do not know his name – does an excellent job in my honest opinion as the character has flavour and life breathed into it. Overall I thoroughly enjoy the Game of Thrones television series, and the portrayal of Tywin Lannister gives the series that extra bit of seasoning which increases the attraction of the series overall.

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The Telegraphed Gazette; 4/5th of May 2013

Greetings folks and welcome to another edition of the Telegraphed Gazette; my name is Vince, bringing you the latest round-up of news from Quebec, the games industry, and other national stories here in Canada. Apologies for not publishing last week, I had to pack for a trip into the province of Alberta and as such I was unable to write the gazette. Now that I am back however it is time to “try” to get back on track. Now without further delay onto the news you care about: temporary foreign workers face a changing Canadian landscape, and teaching is no longer a desired profession according to a symposium.

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Published in a news article in May the 2nd from the Montreal Gazette, the situation in Canada regarding temporary foreign workers is changing as we speak. According to the article, these workers not only face a changing bureaucracy which intends on adding in new safeguards to ensure these workers get a fair rate, but also make it so that companies will have to really try hard to find Canadian workers first before resorting to foreign workers. Now the article details some very interesting points in that the jobs taken by temporary foreign workers or TFW for short are jobs Canadians will not do. These jobs include mopping, working at a fast food diner, picking vegetables in a farm, working retail at minimum wage, and the list roughly goes on there. Now the article has explained that the critics of this new piece of legislation have stated that there is still room for abuse, and that the TFWs need more protection if they are to be treated fairly by employers. Yet the article does emphasize the fact that the jobs taken by TFWs are jobs Canadians will not do; most likely because the pay rate is less than ideal for most Canadians looking for employment. Now this runs into an interesting dilemma in that we here in Canada wish to have our citizens considered first by employers – and in some cases this clause is just, example being the coal mines up in northern BC where a Chinese company placed on their requirements that a worker speak Mandarin – however think about all those minimum wage jobs people do just for the cash, and place no dedication towards it. When people tout: “oh these foreigners are taking our jobs and we have no work,” here is a thought, “what jobs are they taking?” The rule governing this aspect – and it will not change – is that these foreigner workers are bound to their employer under a stated contract, and are not allowed to change jobs should they find conditions unfavorable: in that instance they have to leave. The foreign worker that comes in and takes up a job as a vegetable picker, cannot leave that job and take up a post in let’s say, the Canadian Forces, or Stats Canada, or even RBC – no pun intended.

When people look at foreign workers they often think they are taking all the good jobs such as Information Technology Specialist, or insurance sales person, or even a government job. Yet do these same persons stop to think: “hang on, would I be willing to scrub floors for 10.50 an hour? Would I flip burgers for minimum wage when I have a family of 3 to tend to? Will I ever enjoy – and dedicate my life to – working in a senior care home?” However there is the other side of it, in that the businesses – big and small – hire based on economy. The article highlights a key point in that: “Workers in Quebec don’t want to work for minimum wage – which went up to $10.15 on Wednesday – and they don’t want to put their “heard and soul” into their work, Plante continued. “They won’t mop floors, they won’t do dishes. I got CVs and people came in – but for what I was asking they wanted $20 an hour. This isn’t the Ritz-Carlton – it’s Chez Cora! It’s cooking bacon and eggs!”

If these people really want the position, they need to be realistic with themselves; the job is minimum wage because the labour involved in not rocket science, nor is it entirely in demand and the world will not die if people do not cook bacon and eggs. There is an element of understanding when it comes to standard of living in that people want to improve, but are they willing to drop that standard – either temporarily or for a while – in order to make ends meet? All of us Canadians have standards, and we are taught to never lower those standards but rather work hard to achieve them; so why are you then so worried about losing a 10 dollar an hour job that you never wanted to do in the first place? Some people are homeless because of their complete disinterest to suffer a little in order to overcome their situation; they wallow in self-pity, or are suffering from an addiction as well. Yet when they go to the Safe Injection Site in Vancouver – to use that as an example – rather than having to attend counseling sessions by law, they can choose to either do it, or continue with their lifestyle. Right okay, we have plenty of qualified workers, what a load of bollocks. The Canadian worker generally wants to improve his or her life financially; therefore these workers enter to fill labour shortages where Canadians simply do not want to fill.

Think of this, mining pays 40 dollars an hour, oil extraction pays 50 dollars an hour with room and board, free food, and free transportation; government work pays a decent 50 to 60 thousand dollars annually. Now let us look at minimum wage, it pays – going on BC’s numbers – 19,200.00 per year. Factor in housing, food, gas if they own a car for work, and you really do not have much left to spend on Ipads, new TVs, that nice dinner for your wife or husband, and the list goes on. Really now, Canadians are not piling over one another to earn 19k per year, so why the frustration? 19 thousand dollars per year is chump change for a nurse, likewise a miner, hell even a trucker earns a lot more; even a bus driver earns 35 an hour with Translink out here in BC! These are temporary foreign workers earning minimum wage with no benefits package and crap all in regards to living subsidies!

If a Canadian wants the job, they are a student and need income to pay for tuition, or they are a family who has to take whatever is available to them in order to survive, in which priority should be given to them. However that Canadian will have to know the reality; the small business that hired them cannot afford to give them 45 dollars an hour, and hire 10 others to do shift work. A big company like Wal-Mart probably should raise the pay for their workers considering how much they earn, but a lot of Canadians work for small businesses, and business may not be all that great. When people cannot afford to eat out, they do not; when Canadians can no longer afford fancy chocolates, they simply do not buy them. Insurance, housing, all that costs money folks; we exchange currency for services because no one on this earth thinks it is worth wile to do something for free, especially if it is hard work like mining. However there are a lot of people in rural communities that can benefit from these jobs, maybe use them instead? It would help ease the situation regarding unemployment in the country, and give other Canadians a chance to get out of their small towns and reserves to see the rest of the country. Perhaps we could throw in employment assistance for them as well? Maybe even an education package? However then the problem repeats itself in that once these rural workers find a more lucrative job, we have a labour shortage again. Then there is the issue of displacement in which people from rural communities may find it hard to adjust to life in the city, and a whole new bottle of bees is opened up that must be dealt with. Ultimately a Canadian-born citizen of any background will adopt the Canadian value of working hard to achieve success, and that success means leaving that minimum wage job behind for something better, so we are left with the same problem again.

Now the flip side to that coin is that while there are jobs Canadians will not do, there are also some jobs in which Canadians want to do, but the employers purposely post lower-than-industry-average wages in an effort to make up numbers which warrants them the ability to hire temporary workers to fill a “labour shortage.” Mining up in northern BC was a prime example; the coal miners union was complaining to the federal government over how a company from China came into BC, and then proceeded to request the government grant them permission to bring in temporary foreign workers. This sparked a huge backlash, and as far as I am aware is still going on. Now unions have come out to express that they are not in support of this temporary foreign worker program, and they are not entirely out of their bounds to make such a statement. Some employers wishing to avoid unions so that they can make bigger bucks usually try to use the system as a means to help themselves avoid paying up to industry standards. They are the ones who purposely post jobs which are lower than average in regards to pay and benefits, which in the mind of a Canadian wishing to improve their standard of life, will turn down. There are definitely two side to the coin as on one hand the system helps to fill jobs in which no one is willing to take, but on the other it is enabling foreign workers to come to Canada – separate from immigration because they are not allowed to bring their families, thus they are truly temporary – to work for companies who wish to avoid paying up to industry standards.

Solving this labour shortage issue is not going to be easy, but there are ways and methods to tackling the issue: some good, others satisfactory, and the rest utterly terrible. Sadly with the government buried in politics and games with each other along party lines, this situation will wind up on the board of procrastination for a few more years before someone gets bored of politics and decides to look at the issue. You can read full article in the link below.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Foreign+workers+face+changing+landscape/8323510/story.html

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Sticking to the issue of pay and social mobility, teaching has become a precarious profession according to an article from the Montreal Gazette published the 3rd of May. According to the article, is has become harder and harder to find teachers who will not turnover after a few years due to the fact that the level of education compounded with the rate of pay is no longer seen as attractive in the face of police work or bus driving. The article highlights the lack of demographic change amongst teachers in that they are mostly female, white, and from the lower-middle class; alongside the fact that teachers are paid between 36,000 to 74,000 per year, but the average is 54,000. A speaker noted that this pay rate is slightly less than the other two female-dominated professions such as nursing and social work, though figures were not posted. Moving towards male-dominated professions and a teacher’s earning pale in comparison according to the speaker.

Right so this is also an interesting situation; the pay is not enough according to a professional’s standard. The professional demands at least 56,000 per year, and hopes to see their career take them to new heights after a few years on the job. However this story is more along the lines of the individual holding high standards verses the individuals not willing to do the work. The case here is that they want better pay and prestige, something that I spoke about in the earlier article. However here is where my opinion changes; again we see that people have sky-high expectations and cannot lower them to fit reality. They want to see the Jamaica every year, and drink the finest wine from the finest vineyards in the world. This could be an issue related to how much television media they consume and how their perception of reality is when thinking about why these teachers think in such a manner. I think this is an effect of the sort of environment we have bred over the years with consumer media and education in that we push people to drive to become “gods” but we forget to teach them modesty: and this goes the same for CEOs as well. 68,000 dollars annually is pretty good by most standards, so why not learn to budget and then consider luxury goods? Adding more income to the bill will not fix the fact that you are neck-deep in greed, and no matter how much money you have, the greedier you are, the less and less it will feel worth wile. Greed has gotten the better of us this time around: the link to the full article is located in the link below.

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/Teaching+become+precarious+profession+symposium+hears/8328963/story.html

Well that was a handful; as you are all aware I have only done two articles this edition mainly because the topics covered were fairly lengthy, and as such more time and space was needed to deliver the analysis and opinion. Overall I hoped the two articles presented are appetizing; it certainly was quite the interesting situation to write on. Though I will admit this; these topics are something I am somewhat comfortable writing on. What I mean by this is labour relations is a touchy subject for most people, and often at times it sparks heated debates in which – well to put it frankly – all forms of civility go out the window fast. Yet I do find all of this interesting because it highlights two key aspects: that we are – at times – quite unrealistic with our expectations, and that we may be too greedy for our own good; all parties. This reminds me of a particular case where university students hold a misguided image in their heads that a glorious new beginning is waiting for them; golden gates gleaming in the sunlight – after graduation. Sadly for many subjects, it is: “take whatever job you can get, and then move up from there,” something I feel my generation has not fully understood, and quickly resorts to conclusions. However my observations are not complete on that topic, but from what I gather thus far, it looks to be the case. Anyways folks I best be off: tune in again on May 18th for another edition of the Telegraphed Gazette. The name has been Vince, and I will see you next time.

I am still alive.

Greetings folks;

Thought I would update you on the situation with the blog. Over the past few days I have been busy with exams and a trip to Calgary, hence the lack of content for the blog which was supposed to have a gazette published last week on Saturday. However now that I am back, I will publish this Saturday; currently I am working on the piece which has on particularly long and somewhat difficult topic to tackle.

Now that the main point is out of the way, let us move onto near future prospects: now that I have more time to write for the blog, with classes on break until the fall, I can probably punch out more content depending on how my days go. The gazette will remain virtually unchanged, however I might also do some mid-week posts as well to liven up the place. These may include short stories, thoughts on a particular issue, and the list can go on and on. The point to be made here is that there is a possibility of more content in the summer months, which means I stay sane – humor intended – and you get to feast on some topic-goodness.

Right I must be off my dear readers; tune in this coming Saturday, May 4th for the latest round-up of news from the usual sources. The name has been Vince, and I will see you next time.