On the world stage,
2021 started with the failed violent coup attempt against the government in Washington, proceeded through an assortment of bad to worse COVID-19 news, the Afghanistan fiasco, deepening hostile divisions in the formerly more temperate and tolerant United States, worsening political situations in many parts of the world, the first potential breezes presaging the winds of war in India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Europe, and of necessity, the United States. The only plus for general peace was the slightly improved climate in parts of the Middle East, with Israel and some former enemies creating new relationships to buttress themselves against greater security threats to them all.
Could 2022 be a more hopeful year? Certainly not for democracy, which has been crushed in China and Russia, where any opposition to dictatorial rule is met with the dictator’s ruthless iron fist. And, how long can the United States hold itself up as a champion of democracy when a significant percentage of its population no longer believes in it and is prepared to go to any lengths to obtain the government it wants (deserves?); where even the inquiry into the dark evil of and behind the January 6 insurrection will be quashed if control of Congress changes hands? Unfortunately, people on both ends of the political spectrum believe theirs is the only way all others should be allowed to think, and as long as such attitude endures, civilization itself is in danger.
Moreover, if even one of Russia, China, North Korea, India, or Pakistan were to launch a war of expansion against one of its less militarily able neighbouring countries, the confrontation could within days escalate to other theatres worldwide, Would the “West” have sufficient courage and conviction to do anything about ruthless Fascism under a new guise this time? A chancy proposition indeed. Oh, and such movements need not merely an engineered provocation, but also a scapegoat group to fully energize their peoples’ for hatred of the supposed “enemy” advanced as the pretext to widen the scope of their power and control. Who will play the role of scapegoat this time?
The Abbotsford state of emergency
has receded with the flood waters, leaving numerous farms all but destroyed and billions of dollars in damages behind. A fraction of that money spent on upgrading dykes over the last ten years would have obviated the current expense, but political wrangling and practical inertia on both sides of the 49th parallel meant nothing happened, and made the devastation a matter of when rather than if. Perhaps a four metre high dyke along several kilometres of the border would do the trick. However, highways in and out of the Lower Mainland are partially open, rail service and the pipeline are restored, gasoline rationing has ended, and a muted sense of normalcy has returned to the supply chain.
Not so to the health system. Yes, the omicron variant seems less threatening to a given individual on average, but it also appears to be several times as infectious and progresses more quickly, case numbers are increasing exponentially, and an already overburdened health system is creaking at the seams. Yes, a given person is less likely to be hospitalized with this variant, but a smaller percentage of a much larger number of cases will put more absolute numbers into hospital, and greater transmissibility means nearly all the unvaccinated and some percentage of the vaccinated will eventually get it. (BTW, “omnicron” is pronounced with a short “o”. Omega is pronounced with the long “o”.)
Nor were things better for the Spy at home,
where the year started with the effective failure of chemotherapy and eventually saw Joyce lose her courageous battle with ovarian cancer and brethe her last on August 27. Family has been very good to the Spy, especially at Christmas, when the twelve of us were together and the 2Ha back yard filed with the pitter patter and shouts of grandchildren playing in deep snow. Accumulations are now up to 45cm and more is expected, so they may be back as soon as tomorrow. Meanwhile, judging by the frost on the inside of the windows a few days ago, this has been the coldest winter in normally balmy British Columbia for at least thirty years.
It is certainly cold on the inside. Nothing can replace the close companion of 52 years and 12 days. The consolation is that her faith grew even as the cancer destroyed her body, and that she is now with her Saviour. She cannot return here, but we will again be together forever, and given the Spy is getting to be an old duffer now, that day may not be many years ahead. Not his own call of course, but His.
More pitter patter of little feats:
– the Spy’s new Ascent has already amply demonstrated the superior quality of Subaru vehicles. Gone are his old days of preparing pages of defects to fix on new North American built cars.
– He wonders why there is so little competition among manufacturers of cameras compatible with Apple’s Homekit. In particular he had yet before today to unearth a compatible doorbell camera, but now sees a Logitech one on the Apple.com site, though not on the Apple.ca page (even though that camera’s image fronts the link to the Homekit products.)
– The move of the Spy’s WebNameHost subsidiary is now complete. All accounts are now on the server tara.namexerver.net at LiquidWeb, and he is no longer a customer of NewTek. Sad to say that after NewTek took over the old Atjeu, service deteriorated to abysmal depths, particularly in the last year. The Spy could not access the ticket system except by email, the company wanted to do only Cloud business, not dedicateds, so after two decades, his small-time hosting business is in a new physical data centre and paying less for the privilege. Nor was it easy to cancel the old account. He only thinks and hopes it is done with, so he won’t be billed for another year on January 3, and have to dispute the charge via the credit card company.
– along the way, he discovered a rather elusive bug in the cPanel hosting software on the account transfer page when using Safari on Catalina or newer with Safari 12 or newer. The developers are working on fixing it as he writes. So far, he is impressed with the cPanel service team. The responsiveness of Liquid Web is a little spottier, but on problems that need fixing they are very good. Imagine: a server with more cores and memory, better backup, higher speed and fully managed with much better (not perfect, but ordinary would be a vast improvement) service for $100 less a month than he was paying.
– Kudos to the ConfigServer people whom he once again engaged to secure the new server. No one should run a dedicated server without cPanel, the Softaculous installer, and the ConfigServer suite of utilities. (Too bad some of his customers didn’t use that installer to update their Drupal sites in particular. The older versions of Drupal just don’t work under PHP 7 or later.
– His new Panasonic KX-TGF 570 Bluetooth-enabled phone setup with 6 handsets is working like a charm. Recommended.
– He reconditioned his old snow blower with a plethora of new parts last year. Good thing. It’s getting a workout this winter.
– the Spy wonders why Excel 4.0 macros, though still allowed to run on current versions of Excel, only work on Windows and not under MacOS. Yes, and the security issues MS warns about with 4.0 macros will only arise if one loads a spreadsheet containing malicious code. Who would run anything but their own sheets and enterprise-created ones like Vena (well, the latter is slow, bloated and Cloud based, but it does work most of the time)? Or, do people download bootleg Excel sheets from the dark net? ‘Course, VBA is its own virus, all time poster boy champion in the category of worst programming language ever devised, but that’s beside the point. The Spy has 4.2M of critical legacy VBA code in one spreadsheet alone, but the job for which he created it will soon come to an end as he will by February no longer be a church treasurer.
Ah well, there yet may be hope
for a New Year that starts in fewer than six hours from this writing. He will have a new class for Discrete Math II starting in January at Trinity Western University, looks forward to working with eager students again, and should have time on his partial sabbatical to revise one book and do some work on a new novel.
Perhaps in the coming year there will be a new pandemic–one of common sense–that strikes the political, military, and health worlds. After all, where there is life, there is hope, as the old optimists once said. (They missed the mark, though. True and certain hope comes only from the One who is Life.) But could there be a vaccine against political extremism and denial, hatred and sabre rattling, racism, sexism, nonsense, and willful ignorance? As the philosopher said just before disappearing, “I think not.”
Meanwhile, QED (quite enough done)
–The Northern Spy
Opinions expressed here are entirely the author’s own, and no endorsement is implied by any community or organization to which he may be attached. Rick Sutcliffe, (a.k.a. The Northern Spy) is professor of Computing Science and Mathematics and Assistant Dean of Science at Canada’s Trinity Western University. He completed his fifty-first year as a high school and university teacher in 2021. He has been involved as a member of or consultant with the boards of several organizations, and participated in developing industry standards at the national and international level. He was co-author of the Modula-2 programming language R10 dialect. He is a long time technology author and has written two textbooks and ten alternate history SF novels, one named best ePublished SF novel for 2003. His various columns have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers (dead tree and online formats), since the early 1980s, and he’s been a regular speaker at churches, schools, academic meetings, and conferences. He and his wife Joyce celebrated their fiftieth anniversary in 2019 and lived in the Aldergrove/Bradner area of B.C. from 1972 to 2021, where he now continues alone, depending heavily on family to manage.
URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Arjay Enterprises:
The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net
General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe’s Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher’s Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html
The Fourth Civilization–Ethics, Society, and Technology (4th 2003 ed. ): http://www.arjay.bc.ca/EthTech/Text/index.html
Other URLs of relevant interest:
BC Government COVID site: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19
TWU COVID Info: https://www.twu.ca/covid-19-information
URLs for products mentioned this month:
Liquid Web: https://subaru.ca/
Apple Homekit: https://www.apple.com/us/search/homekit?src=alp
Vena: https://www.venasolutions.comTWU: https://www.twu.ca