Welcome! You've arrived at award-winning author Marcel Gagné's personal Website. I am the author of the "Moving to Linux" series of books, a regular columnist for several tech magazines, a public speaker, radio and television personality, and a well known voice in the Linux and open source universe. I created the famous (perhaps infamous) Cooking With Linux which ran for ten years in the Linux Journal. I'm also a published science fiction author and editor, a onetime Editor in Chief, a pilot, a former Top 40 disc jockey, and I fold a mean origami T-Rex.  This site is home to my insights, opinions, gripes, brags, tech stuff, and whatever else comes to mind when I have the time or the inclination to publish it. 

21
Feb

Why I Talk About Gun Control

RIght after the whole Sandy Hook massacre, there was a lot of heated back and forth discussion on the subject of why guns are bad, or good depending on who you spoke to, and whether guns kill people or whether just people kill people. The short answer to that last one is that people kill people but guns make it a hell of a lot easier. Anyhow, it appears that I do a lot of the talking (or writing) on this subject and I am, in fact, highly critical of guns, gun ownership, and the whole gun culture. Guns are a touchy and deeply personal topic for many, much like religion, especially in the United States where the 2nd Amendment is considered by many to be as sacred as any Bible and sparks no end of debate. Whenever I see one too many pro-gun postings, or after yet another shooting tragedy, I can't seem to help but join the fray. After one rather heartfelt and personal emails from a friend on Facebook, it occured to me that I needed to respond publicly and to express my feelings regarding guns and gun control (much as I did regarding my posts about why I attack religion).

20
Feb

Definition Of A Stupid By-law

This is the definition of a stupid by-law. Not to mention a discriminatory and insensitive one. At the front of my kid's school, there's a 'school drop off and pick up zone'. Parents can pull up here, wait for their kids to come out, then drive away. There's no posted time limit and as long as you are sitting in the car, it's okay.

Enter, me. My son is autistic and is prone to wandering. He sadly cannot be trusted to simply walk out and come to the car. So I park, get out, walk to the door and get him. No big deal. If I park, as I did today, in the drop-off and pick-up zone, the nice by-law enforcement officer makes me move my car. He explains that the by-law states that you can't get out of the car. 

So here's the insane stupidity of this law. Parents of normal, neurotypical children, who can be trusted to walk from the school to the waiting car, can park there, waiting in their warm vehicles (it's winter) for their kids to join them. It could take 5 minutes. It could take 8 minutes. Because I have to physically get out of the car because my son is autistic, I can not legally do what parents of normal children can do.

14
Feb

The True Meaning of Lent

Even though the language I am most comfortable with is English, my first language was French. I spoke my first English words when I was 9 years old, and to this day, I still remember those first words. We had moved from Alma, Quebec to Ontario and didn't yet have a place to live. So my parents rented a room at the Sleepy Time Motel in St. Thomas, Ontario, where we stayed for a couple of weeks. The motel was just on the outskirts of town. Just a short walk down from the motel was a chip wagon selling hamburgers, fries, hot dogs, and so on. I wanted a hot dog, so I asked my Dad for some money and the English words I would need to ask for my treat. I practiced that line over and over again, reciting it out loud and in my head as I walked toward the chip wagon. Those words, "I want a hot dog with everything on it" still echo through my mind to this day.

Those types of early language memories can be powerful. Consequently, there are still a lot of French idiomatic expressions floating around in my head. I still occasionally say "Close the light" instead of "turn off the light". Which brings me to Lent.

04
Feb

Fashion Monster

I have no idea what to make of this, but it made me smile, scratch my head, and pinch myself to make sure I wasn't having some kind of bizarre psychotic dream. So I'm sharing it.

03
Feb

Betrayal of the intellect

Last night, at the Cambridge Union debating society, Professor Richard Dawkins debated the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The image here comes from a story on the Huffington Post where Dawkins is quoted as saying that religion is a "betrayal of the intellect". When I referred to this story on Google+, someone replied to my post by saying the trouble with Richard Dawkins is that he is a "rabid, fundamentalist, atheist" and as deluded at the former Archbishop. He further suggested that neither science nor religion will ever settle this issue.  

Here's my take . . . whether or not some deity or other exists, I can say with near absolute certainty that it's not the god of the Bible, Talmud, Torah, Koran, or any of the books that are paraded as God's word on this planet. Furthermore, the evidence suggests, with near absolute certainty, that there is no god, at least not in the way that most religious people envision such a being.

27
Jan

Today's Bible Quote Examined : Kings 2:23-25

If you've every wondered whether God and his prophets have a sense of humour, wonder no further. Harken to the word . . . 

23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
25 And he went from thence to mount Carmel, and from thence he returned to Samaria.

Apparently, having your bald head insulted was too much for Elisha who was on his way from Jericho to Bethel. He calls on God to do his worse and God puts on quite a show indeed.

23
Jan

Jesus and the Parable of "The Good Samaritan"

The parable of the "the Good Samaritan" was always one of those stories that stuck out as being 'wrong', precisely because it sounded like a racist slur or stereotyping a country and its people. You know what I'm talking about. The cheap Jew. The drunk Irishman. Here in Canada, we used to have stupid Newfie jokes.

In that way, the parable of the Good Samaritan is much like telling the story of the Sober Irishman, which is worth mentioning only because, well . . . can you really imagine a sober Irishman? How about the story of the rich Jew who gives a lot to charity?

Or the Newfie with a Ph. D.? Seriously . . . We could come up with something totally unbelievable, like a Newfie doctor who invents a life-saving device or does something important! Let's include that one in the next edition of the Bible, shall we?

17
Jan

Sysadmins

From the amazing xkcd at xkcd.com


Just because . . . 

15
Jan

Getting and Staying Creative

I ran across this little video while checking into some Drupal themes for a customer. The video was embedded into a slider to show that you could do cool slidery things. While my customer passed on this theme and will be using something else, I did get to take away a cool little collection of creativity tips. And no, I don't do all of these . . . well, not always. Hey, some things I'm great at, other things, not so much.

29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE from TO-FU on Vimeo.

13
Jan

Calling BS on Mother Theresa

Penn and Teller, with a little help from Christopher Hitchens, show us how you can take a culture of pain, misery, poverty, and suffering, and make it sound so good, you reward it with sainthood.

It's amazing to think that a person like Mother Theresa can be seen as a force for good. Sort of like making pedophile priest sound like a force for good. Of Islamists beheading people in god's name sound like a good thing. The latter is relatively fast and brutal, the former takes time and stretches the suffering out over many years.

Which do you like best?

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