Top Fassbender Twists

Every time I hear Peter Fassbender on the radio, I get really angry. He presents a lot of information in a way that is anywhere from mildly to extremely misleading.  The following are my top misleading views from Fassbender.

Mislead #1. The government is adding over $350M to a class size and composition fund.

Actually: The government is continuing with the existing $70M LIF (learning improvement fund).  This fund and amount has been in place for 2 years.  It is acknowledged that current funding is not sufficient.  They want to put the $75M LIF into the contract for 5 years, which is the $375M that Fassbender is talking about. It is not new money, it is an extension of what is currently used. Furthermore, Fassbender is not clear when he talks about the $375M. It is NOT $375M per year.

Mislead #2. The BCTF is not negotiating.

Actually: Anyone can go to the BCPSEA website and download the proposals from May onwards. From this, you will see that the BCTF has removed a lot from their original positions.  Most recently in August, the BCTF dropped the CS&C fund demand from $225M to $175M.  You will also see that the government has essentially not moved on any issue since mid June.

Mislead #3. The BCTF is asking for almost twice what other public sector unions got.

Actually: The BCTF’s wages are less than the rate of inflation and close to what other unions got (maybe it’s less, I’m not sure). Other benefits are about $5M I think, which is probably close to other unions.  However, the BCTF is also asking for an increase in prep time for elementary students.  This is a significant cost, put at around $65M. The government calls this a benefit.  Given that other public sector unions probably have no need for prep time, it stands to reason that any allowance for this issue would be more than what other unions got. If a person were to view prep time as something other than a benefit, then BCTF is getting the same as other unions in terms of wages and benefits.

Mislead #4. The government would have to raise a tax, such as a gas tax hike, to pay for the BCTF’s demands.

Actually: There are many ways to find money. Many people suggest closing a property transfer tax loophole that is allowing foreign investors to purchase multi-million dollar homes and properties while paying almost no tax (PTT).  Secondly, it should be noted that de Jong and Fassbender talk about gas tax, which is a regressive tax.  Regressive taxes hurt lower and middle income people more than higher income. Why wouldn’t they suggest a progressive tax (if a tax is needed at all)?

Mislead #5. The government has put $1B into education since 2002.

Actually: The government also downloaded many costs to the school boards, such as wage increases and hydro increases. There’s also this little dirty secret out there… costs have gone up in the past 12 years.  For a reality check, see this letter from a principal at a Coquitlam elementary school. They’ve seen their budget drop from $181,000 (2002) to $23,000 (2014).

Mislead #6. The contentious E.80 statement is harmless

Actually: a few lawyers have chimed in publicly stating that the “supersedes” statement is indeed something that the BCTF should have removed. It can set a lower standard from which negotiations would start from after the appeal at the BC Supreme Court. It also begs the question as to why this statement is not being removed, if it is so harmless.

Mislead #7. The BCTF have not given written proposals.

Actually: I’ve read through the proposals on the BCPSEA website. I think that must mean they’ve been written down somewhere, somehow. Government has also said that it took 2 days to get the binding arbitration scheme written down from BCTF. Personally, I could care less about this stuff.  It’s a distraction and disingenuous at best. It is obvious that both sides know exactly what is on the bargaining table, and insinuating otherwise is misleading.

Now, I’m biased in that I’m pro-teacher. But even when I try to get critical on Jim Iker, his explanations are pretty clear.  I may not agree with all of his choices or tactics, but I don’t think he is misleading anyone.  Iker’s main gripes are:

1. the government hasn’t put any new money into CS&C – true

2. the government hasn’t been negotiating – I’ve read the proposals, and would say this is true. The government is holding firm from beginning of June.

3. teacher wage demands are reasonable – fair enough

4. teachers in BC are among the lowest paid in Canada – true if you believe Stats Canada

5. teachers should get a bonus to make up for 3 years of 0 in wage increases. He says this amount is negotiable – true

Strongback Giveaway

In the name of space saving and other committments in the near future, I’ve decided that I should get rid of my strongback. If you’re interested, leave a comment below!

This strongback worked very well for me. Once the beam was put onto the legs, the legs were easy to adjust for contours in the floor. These legs were a big improvement over the first ones that I made – more ramblings on this can be found here.

Hard Drive Death

Sometimes I wonder if I get a bit paranoid about backups and using my NAS. This usually happens on the occasion that I have to do some maintainance on it. Most of the people I know do not have a NAS, which of course begs the question of whether we need to have one or not. As more and more Cloud storage and services are available, perhaps a NAS becomes less relevant. In any event, it’s not often that a friend will tell me about a hard drive crash and them losing data.

nas4free-logo-300x78

Well, yesterday I almost had another one of those events. The hard drive on my NAS, the one that holds the OS, died. I’ve been using NAS4Free for almost a year now, after the FreeNAS project switched over. It’s been a pretty seamless solution for me, but with the OS pooched I was worried. You see, I use a software RAID with the NAS and it’s the OS that makes me able to read my storage drives. I can’t take the storage drives out of my NAS and get data from them using another computer. So it’s pretty important that my NAS keeps on working. Luckily I have a saved copy of my NAS4Free configuration, which is the key to all of this.

I didn’t have an extra drive, so I decided to run the OS from a USB flash drive. It’s a painless process to set it all up, but it did take a bit of time. I re-downloaded the OS, downloaded a USB image writer, created a Live USB OS and then booted into NAS4Free. I then had to grab another blank 4gb Flash USB, and use the “Live” version to install a “Full” version on the 4gb drive. Simple, but a little time consuming. Once the full version was running, I uploaded my configuration file, rebooted, and then all of my old NAS4Free information was there, including access to my storage drives.

Maybe I get an apparent higher rate of dead hard drives simply because I have more hard drives that can screw up. There are 5 in my NAS (1 dead drive which used to be the OS, and then 4 drives for storage), and 1 each in my laptop and desktop. Oh, I also have two external hard drives for backups. I really only use one of these now, it holds 3 TB. As data storage goes up, the old backup drives get too small. My hold external backup was only 500GB…

Moving forward, I can still see a place for the NAS at home. We can download torrents and keep them on the NAS, and have them show on our computers or TV in the front room. The NAS is also good for storing and streaming music, tv shows and movies. However, the increased popularity of services like Netflix has decreased much of our tv and movie streaming.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Night Skiing

Yesterday Grady and I went out for our first time night skiing.  I decided to check out Grouse, as Grady hasn’t really skied there before, other than one bunny hill lesson.  We were on the mountain by 5pm and skied straight through to 9pm.  It was a ton of fun and I’m super proud of how well Grady did.  He showed great perseverence and willingness to challenge himself, which isn’t something he’s always been wanting to do.

Our night was topped off with some delicious hot chocolate.  The one downer was standing around waiting to take the tram down, and the crammed ride that followed.  All in all though it was good times – I’ll be giving some serious thought to getting a Grouse Y2Play pass in the spring.

Web Tracking

There is something twisted about the public being used for marketing purposes in their every day lives. We do this all the time when we wear branded clothing. Granted, there are lots of people who want to show the world that they are wearing designer clothing. On the other hand, many of us don’t like the idea of shelling out $45 for a Nike running shirt and having to advertise for their company while wearing it.

The internet and web are no different when it comes to public marketing. When people sign up for a service such as Facebook, they are agreeing to have their (once) private data used for the commercial benefit of companies. In particular, I found Facebook’s privacy statements to be far too onerous and even outrageous, and decided to delete my account last year. In particular, I think it is outrageous that public photos posted on Facebook immediately hands the rights of the photos over to Facebook. I also learned that Facebook places a tracking cookie on computers that tracks web traffic even if you are logged off of Facebook. I first heard about this on CBC and confirmed it myself.

A friends of mine pointed out that it was hypocritical of me to treat Facebook as my only privacy concern, when other services such as Google do similar things.  They were right, although my argument at the time was that at least Google doesn’t hide their marketing and advertising machinations. That, and I found Google’s services to be really useful.

Having just read an article by Janet Vertesi, a prof at Princeton who recently broke up with Google, I’m now tyring to scale back my use of google as well.  The obvious first step was to replace Google’s search engine with something that doesn’t track my useage.  Duck Duck Go seems to fit the bill (ha ha) quite nicely.  Next steps would be to move my online videos from youtube to Vimeo, and stop using Google Drive (which I dislike and don’t use much).  However, google plays an important part in my mobile computing right now because I use their cloud services for syncing my contacts and calendar across devices.  I’ve thought about replacing some of these cloud services with Microsoft’s but I’m not sure that’s an improvement.  If MS collected data for only their internal sales, that would be a step in the right direction though. But if they’re selling data to companies then it would be no better.

The other thing that I learned about in this process is that we can turn off data tracking in our web browsers, by way of the “do not track” initiative.  To learn how to enable Do Not Track on your web browser, see this link.

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