Divergent: Veronica Roth

YA dystopian novel in the style of HUNGER GAMES.

A debut novel, part of a series, it was written in 2011, before EVERY story in every media had to have a young precocious underestimated girl save the world and we all got tired of the trope.

The first half is much better than the last, as is often the case with debut novels

The Eyre Affair: Jasper Fforde

I love alternative history novels (including my own). I particularly like this one, which as Douglas Adams once wrote, is only a molecule or two perspective’s from “normality.”

THE EYRE AFFAIR is set in an alternative 1985, with England and Russia still embroiled in the Crimean War after more than a century, an independent very socialist Wales behind an Iron Curtain, and actual literature what inspires society more than wealth, celebrity or sport.

It’s hard to categorize this book: it is AltHistory, romance, satire, police procedural, fantasy, mystery, thriller and SF all in one.

Even better, it is a first novel that is very solid.

I loved the series the first time I read it, and time is only confirming that opinon.

Einstein’s Dice and Schrodinger’s Cat: Paul Halpern

Cool title that incorporates popular culture memes of two of Physics most prominent physicists from the past century.

The title goes FAR, FAR beyond these two scientific concepts. Not only does it include almost EVERY physicist of note during that time period, it goes into great minutiae of not only their theories but personal lives, going so far as to outline bicycle rides and birthdays.

You have to be dedicated to the subject to read carefully through the entire work.

Agency: William Gibson

Many readers will come away from this thinking it is pure science fiction, not recognizing how close it is reality; most of the “fiction” in there is already theorized, if not achieved.

I’m not sure why Gibson doesn’t get the laurels he deserves. A major SF voice. I did find the jumping back and forth between characters in different “stubs” confusing, especially the minor characters.

The best parts are in the beginning, when UNISS (Eunice) plays more of a part. Looking forward to reading the companion work, PERIPHERAL.

Angles of Investigation: Three Harry Bosch Short Stories: Michael Connelly

Adding complementary short stories to longstanding mystery novel series seems to be the trend in publishing these days (cf: Jack Reacher).

The stories here are disjointed and uneven, but if you’re a Harry Bosch fan already, you won’t be confused. The stories are true to the longer novels and in-character for the titular detective. Worth a read.

Never let a good crisis go to waste: in this case, to threaten freedom and rule of law


John Carpay: Alberta’s Bill 10 is an affront to the rule of law
The legislation, wh
ich rushed through the legislature in less than 48 hours, gives cabinet ministers new power to write de facto laws and create new penalties without the approval of the legislative assembly
COVID 19 Update 50 new cases, enhanced testing in Calgary zone4:17
Special to National Post
John Carpay
April 14, 2020
9:30 AM EDT

As though following Machiavellian advice to never let a crisis go to waste, the Alberta government has quietly expanded its own powers under the Public Health Act. Bill 10, which was rushed through the legislature in less than 48 hours, gives cabinet ministers new powers to write de facto laws and create new penalties without the approval of the legislative assembly.

Before Bill 10 became law on April 2, Alberta’s Public Health Act already empowered politicians and bureaucrats to take property away from citizens and organizations, to force citizens to render aid, to conscript people to help deal with an emergency and to enter into any building or property without a warrant. The chief medical officer was already empowered to forcibly quarantine any person who is ill, or any person who is caring for a sick family member.

Before Bill 10, cabinet ministers were already empowered to suspend the operation of provincial laws, in whole or in part, once cabinet declared a public health emergency. But now, cabinet ministers have acquired the additional power of creating and implementing new orders and penalties, simply through ministerial order, without them being discussed, scrutinized, debated or approved by the legislative assembly of Alberta.

Bill 10 has also increased the maximum penalty for disobeying the Public Health Act from $2,000 to $100,000 for a first offence, and from $5,000 to $500,000 for a subsequent offence.

The only justification provided by Health Minister Tyler Shandro for these new powers was to “strengthen our ability to protect the health and safety of Albertans.” Why ministers need the power to write laws on the fly was not explained.

Without review or approval of the legislature, a minister can now create a new order requiring people to install tracking devices on their cellphones, and requiring them to register their phones with the government. Without any oversight, a minister can create an exclusive list of people who are legally permitted to go outside, or legally authorized to drive a vehicle, and impose a $1,000 fine on those who walk outside or drive “illegally” because they are not on the list. The health minister could unilaterally declare that all sick people must be forcibly removed from their homes, as the World Health Organization has suggested. And an order could be issued for mass vaccination, without any discussion or debate in the legislature.

Cabinet’s powers to suspend laws and create new laws without input or approval from the legislature will eventually come to an end, after the government decides that the public health emergency has ceased. The Public Health Act refers to a 30-day period for a public health emergency, but nothing in the legislation stops the cabinet from declaring another public health emergency the day after the first one expires. Practically speaking, the provincial cabinet, on the advice of the chief medical officer, could maintain a public health emergency for months or even years.

With courts currently closed, or highly restricted to criminal law and some family law matters, the usual checks and balances on our system of government are limited or non-existent. Thankfully, the ministers’ new ability to write laws and create new offences excludes the power to tax and spend, and newly created offences cannot have a retroactive effect.

However, Bill 10 is still an affront to the rule of law, one of Canada’s foundational principles. “Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law” are the first words in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The rule of law means being governed by laws, not by the whims of a king or a cabinet minister.

During this pandemic, we should accept reasonable restrictions on our charter freedoms on a temporary basis, with defined time limits and clearly explained justifications. Yet Alberta’s legislation provides no assurance that the violations of our rights will be only temporary, and no specific justification for Bill 10 has been provided.

National Post

Hair freezing contest


Canada’s outlandish hair freezing contest offers much-needed laughs
Karla Cripps, CNN • Updated 1st April 2020

Bad hair day? Not a chance: The winners of the annual Hair Freezing Contest at the Takhini Hot Pools In Canada’s Yukon territory have been announced. This bearded couple walked away with the Nongshim’s People’s Choice prize, voted on by the public.

(CNN) — During these uncertain times, we’ll take the laughs where we can get them.
Which is why this insanely silly series of images of tourists freezing their hair into gravity-defying styles couldn’t have come at a better time.
The photos, featured in the above gallery, are the winners of the Hair Freezing Contest at the Takhini Hot Pools, an annual competition In Canada’s Yukon territory.
Contestants are awarded in five categories: Best Male, Best Female, Best Group, Nongshim’s People’s Choice, and Tim Horton’s Most Creative. (Names of the winners were not released.)
The winner for each category gets CAD$2,000 in addition to free hot springs passes.
The contest has been around since 2011, steadily gaining popularity over the years as the outlandish images began to get shared globally. This year’s contest received 288 entries — more than double what it got in 2011 — according to management.
“We like to think that this contest will bring some joy to viewers around the world — even if just for a few moments,” says Andrew Umbrich, owner and operator of Takhini Hot Pools.

Think you can come up with a style that will please the masses? To enter, you need to visit Takhini Hot Pools between December and March, on a day when the temperature is below -20°C (-4°F) — certainly not rare in those parts.

There are few steps involved in achieving the perfect look. First, dip your head in the hot springs and wet your hair completely. (Freezing your hair won’t damage it, they promise.)
Then, allow the cold air to slowly freeze your hair.
Staff advise visitors to keep their ears warm by periodically dipping them into the hot water. And you’re going to have to be patient — all that wet hair will eventually freeze — eyebrows and eyelashes included.
Finally, once you’re happy with your style, ring the bell near the pool entrance and staff will come take the photo.
Getting there
Located in Canada’s far north, bordering the US state of Alaska, Yukon is considered incredibly remote — even among Canadians — and known for its stunning scenery.
“The Yukon is Canada’s backyard,” says Umbrich. “We have all the wilderness, all the animals, all the natural wonders, without all the tension from large populated areas. Come to the Yukon to relax and experience nature, whether its winter with the northern lights or in summer with the midnight sun.”
The mineral-rich natural Takhini Hot Pools, in operation for more than 100 years, offer relaxing dips in temps between 36° and 42° Celsius. Umbrich says they’re currently building a new hot springs facility that they expect to be complete by the end of this year.
Normally open year-round — though currently closed due to the global coronavirus pandemic — it’s located 28 kilometers (18 miles) from downtown Whitehorse, Yukon’s capital.
The Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport services flights to and from several major Canadian cities including Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
Takhini Hot Pools, KM 10/Mile 6 Takhini Hotsprings Road, +1-867-456-8000