Thursday, March 31, 2005

News Flash! - U.N. Unable To Do Anything Right. MSM Oblivious

I don't know what is more pathetic:
  • The fact that the U.N. continues to employ the services of the infamous Jean Ziegler who is so tainted with political bias that his last shred of credibility had to be put under an electron microscope (a destructive form of scan BTW)
  • The fact that he is in the position of U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food at a time when there should be someone of credibility and substance at the helm. (Even with an issue as important as starvation the U.N. can't avoid dreaming up the most pompous job title on the planet.)
  • The fact that the media is reporting on his latest "work" as if he were a genuine "hunger specialist". Even his supporters do not describe him as an expert on anything; referring to him instead as a "distinguished Swiss Author, Professor, Militant and Parliamentarian" and a "relentless intellectual". I can think of no other "compliment" that would go further towards disqualifying someone form doing actual scientifically credible demographic studies which he seems to be claiming to have done. If I can find this stuff out why can the BBC and their ilk try asking a question or two?
His basic claim is that the number of malnourished children has doubled from the 4% pre-war level at which time I am sure Saddam was keeping excellent records of the situation. Is there any doubt that the U.N. rushed this nut-bucket in to do this "report" because they saw that the oil for food scam was starting to see light? I suppose that an organization of people who defend rapists peace-keepers, repressive regimes and enjoys stealing money that is meant to help starving people can be trusted to do a fair and scientific study of the situation.

The final words should go to Ziegler himself.

"The silent daily massacre by hunger is a form of murder," Mr Ziegler said.

It is not negligence by the U.N. and Iraqi children are certainly not victims of a historically repressive regime that eviscerated Iraq's economy over the decades. This is a case of massacre and murder! (present tense) You can not have these without massacring murders but he can just use the rhetoric and let this slack jawed supporters connect the dots (coward). An unbiased intellectual "hunger expert" I am sure.

I just wore out the sarcasm button on my keyboard so I need to stop now.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Some Reason for the Season

I wanted to publish this as an op-ed piece in one of the local papers but they seem to have some law/policy/half-assed prejudice against using pen names. I once had a connection with the provincial government (who does not in this country?) and I don't want to cause any trouble for former colleagues until I get a commitment from the teachers union on this issue (Yeah right!) so I will post it here. It won't be seen by anyone who needs to see it but it will help me blow off some steam. This at least means that I do not need to keep it down to 400 words.

On March 16th my clock radio woke me up by informing me that the New Brunswick teachers' union has voted overwhelmingly to go on strike. The main issue is wages and the union is asking for 15% over 2 years. Yikes!

Now perhaps the teachers union is unaware that to some people in the province (the unemployed, those in the private sector etc.) this sounds somewhat unreasonable, especially given that this story was followed up later with a story about a student of our illustrious public school system who was ostracized and bullied from grade three to high school. This suggests to me that the public education system has actually deteriorated from the time when I attended which until now I would not have though possible. I did not start getting bullied until I was in grade 7. I guess that learning about the nightmare of public education is a life long process.

Perhaps those 'in the know' about the education system don't care what the public thinks. I however, think that public perception is important since it is something the government will consider when evaluating their demands.

Now before you teachers all respond that you are having to wear a barrel with shoulder straps because of your student loan payments and that the stress of having to supervise the violent and uneducated psychopathic kids that yesterday's generation of violent and uneducated psychopathic parents has delighted in raising and sending out into the world, let me just say that I am on your side. Or at least... I could be. There is no free lunch in this world. You need something from the public, and some of us need something from the government which you are in the position to shake loose. The old saying about scratching backs could apply quite nicely.

You see, I (and I am sure others before me) have tried and failed to find out why the province (and most of North America) refuses to teach logic, reasoning and critical thinking in the public school system. I was exposed to these skills and values outside the formal education system and I have come to the conclusion that they are not some optional subject like life skills courses or music or even math and reading. Logical reasoning skills are the foundation of education. Without teaching them, there is no education system to speak of. When I contacted the provincial government about this I heard no response.

So here is what I propose: I and all other like minded people in this province (I am sure there are at least 40 reasonable people in a province of this size) will actively campaign on your behalf if your little union will include in its collective agreement demands the stipulation that reason and basic logic be a mandatory subject for every student in the province. In other words, no student should receive a high school diploma without knowing how to evaluate an argument, what constitutes a valid argument, how valid arguments are different from true arguments, and what some common fallacies and sophistries are - you know basic stuff that could be taught in junior high but which New Brunswick students are left to hopefully pick up on the street from whoever is teaching them sex-ed these days.

[For the information of non New Brunswickers, there was recently a commotion when it was discovered that the sex-ed curriculum included explicit material like the word "penis" and such lies as the idea that condoms could reduce the risk of pregnancy, AIDS and STDs. It was not enough that parents could ask that their kids be excused from this filth, the very idea that other people's children might hear that pubic hair is not a punishment from God for impure thoughts was horrifying to them also. It was suggested that we adopt one of the "abstinence only" curricula that are popular in some states; curricula like the ones that were recently found to be telling kids that touching another person's genitals can result in pregnancy.]

Forty reasonable people might not sound like a lot but consider that we will be writing our M.L.A.s, writing op-ed pieces for our local papers (without pen names because that would be wrong), bringing you coffee and Tim Bits on the picket lines etc. With demands like 15% over two years you are going to need all the support you can get and it would take very little effort on your part to include this policy in your list of demands.

It is sad for me to realize that I need to cut deals with one political entity to get another one to do the right thing; to do what should have been done without Machiavellian intrigue but this is the world we live in and I can only hope to change some small part of it in my lifetime.

I await your response.

Update: No response came, the teachers implemented work-to-rule for a couple of months until the students and parents could take it no longer and then the Union and the Government came to a settlement without a strike. I do not know, nor do I care about the terms of this new scheme but I think it is safe to say that a commitment to teaching reasoning skills to every high school student is not an item on the contract.

How Should the Right-Wing Centrally Plan the Economy?

I was recently discussing the economy of New Brunswick, Canada with someone who parks his donkey on the political right. Now I am of the opinion that the government at all levels should not be trying to plan, manage or otherwise "improve" the economy. Furthermore, I believe that this policy should not be waved just because some level of government has the opportunity to get something out of the deal, like the right to claim responsibility for 10 new jobs that they had nothing to do with in a city of over one hundred thousand or the opportunity to crow about helping to keep a company from fleeing the province by giving them lots of tax breaks while their competitor, who ask for no such favors and make no such threats can get stuffed.

This position of non governmental involvement in the economy is universally condemned by both the left and the right, though never at the same time. There reaction to the idea always depends on who is doing it.

Now for those of you outside the province, assuming the real world still exists, the term "economy of New Brunswick" is a euphemism for the Irving empire (with some of the McCain family empire hirelings and some governmental jobs thrown in for spice). Everything I will say about the Irvings in this post is a criticism of the governments dealings with them not with the Irvings themselves. No one can possibly blame them from taking what they can so easily take. If I had the ear of generations of gullible governments, I would probably give in to the temptation to make myself very powerful also. There is a certain responsibility of the government to not put its tail in the air every time the Irving forestry industry has some timber in its metaphorical pants. (I wonder if I would get arrested if I wore metaphorical pants?)

No one really knows how much of the province's economy belongs to the Irvings (with the remaining being just under their control). Some say that one in twelve people in New Brunswick are paid by the Irving "family" of companies and that everyone else owes their job to "spin-off" industries that would disappear if the Irvings were refused anything they ask for.

People who weep with joy at the marvels of the Irvings and all they have done for the province always seem to forget that there is not a single industry that they are involved in for which they do not have competitors. What keeps the Irvings as the apple of the provincial eye is that these competitors are not part of a larger empire and so are not visible. The Governments has, over the years, ignored the inconvenient fact of the existence of Irving competitors, giving the Irvings:

tax breaks (see above link for just one example),

low interest loans (because really, where would the Irvings be able to get a loan without the government? How can they be expected to compete with the smaller manufacturing plants who don't get such loans?)

and other sexual favors.

That last item about assisting the ship building industries - surely, you say, that is legitimate. Most ship building nations give sleazy subsidies to their ship building companies and there are, apparently, no Canadian competitors who would be affected by this. Two wrongs make a right when nationalism is concerned, right? I guess the taxpayers and small to medium businesses who provide the funds for the Irvings favorite creditors (the Canadian government) were not going to do anything productive with the cash anyway. Hundreds of (hinted at) jobs provided by the Irvings are certainly worth any amount of lost jobs due to the tax harvesting industry; the only industry that the Irvings have taken great pains to avoid though they seem to support it for everyone else. We can never know what the number of jobs is which do not exist today because the governments of the day have repeatedly picked the Irvings as the horse to bet on. It is easy to count people hired by the Irvings and use them as propaganda. It is not possible for critics of the Irvings to round up people who would have benefited from a free-market economy. Most of them have left the province anyway.

Certainly, the Irving lovers say, no other company would have kept their companies in the province all this time. That is probably because the governments would not have given in to their insane demands. "Cut my taxes and give me low interest loans or I will go to another province or country. And make sure my competitors don't get equal treatment!" I will grant that if our province had responded to this as they should have every time the Irvings said it, we would not have as many people working for the Irvings. Of course, we might have a functional economy.

My "right-wing friend never was convinced that a free-market system would have been better for the province. I guess I am just naive.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Winner of the Apesnake Atrocious Argument Award.

I have decided to award a prize to really bad arguments that I encounter. It will be awarded in an intermittent manner at a time and a place of my choosing. Sometimes I will not even bother to name the recipient if I feel that they are merely a living stereotype and not an actual thinking human being (or if I just don't know the name). Such is the case of this first ever winner of the A.A.A. Award

I was on the computer while CNN was on behind me; I had not been watching it, I just got fed up with channel surfing and left it on that channel; when two partisan nobodies (possibly elected politicians by the sound of them) started blathering about that dead woman who's heart and lungs won't stop working. There was the usual balloon juice - sound bites and ironic appeals to arguments that neither pundit would hold outside this issue (a Democrat supporting privacy and anti-government intervention, a Republican saying that the husband is not the ultimate unquestioned head of the house hold, etc.) when the Republican came out ahead and scored the winning atrocious argument. She said (screamed really) that it was time we solved this type of thing by getting rid of these troublesome activist court judges and replace them with conservative judges who will play along with what people (read politicians) want. When it was pointed out to her that the latest judge to rule in favor of the husband in this case was a conservative church going fellow she blurted out "Yes, but he is WRONG!! He is WRONG!!"

So her argument is that everything will be made perfect if all judges (liberal and conservative) are replaced by the type of conservative judges that are not capable of being wrong.

Now if only there was some way of determining whether a judge was wrong or not. Some sort of written code that could be interpreted by someone who is educated and trained in this code.

As an aside, politicians hate judges for two reasons:

1) They force some basic restrictions on their ability to do anything they want. When reason wanes, the court restrains. To someone who has spent their entire life trying to gain influence and power this restraint is like sunlight is to a vampire.

2) Most politicians are lawyers who were too stupid to ever hope to became judges, or judges that were too stupid to ever reach a position of authority in their chosen profession (I am not specifically referring to Judge Roy Moore here even if some might feel that the shoe fits). They see state (or provincial) Supreme Court judges and their federal counterparts as being successful at what they were barely adequate in, understanding the law. Hence, bitterness ensues.

However for this complete 180 degree turn of logic without taking a gasp of air; from "conservative judges would prevent this" to "this was not prevented by a conservative judge" in less than three seconds without any recognition of contradiction, this nameless pundetress gets the first ever Apesnake Atrocious Argument Award. (patent pending)

Now for a more in depth look at the media and their pundit panderism in action I encourage you to watch this clip of the Daily Show. I found it mirrored somewhere so I hope it stays up for a while as go find the actual site on that comedy network site thingy.

After appearing in a commercial for Bibles, the two representatives from opposite ends of the spiritual spectrum became good friends and went out for a meal of loaves and fishes. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Three Cheers for Iraq

A BBC article on Iraq shows that the anti-Iraqi scum-jars are screwed.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Teach the Controversy - But NOT in the South.

It is interesting that the "teach the controversy" sound bite is just a flag of convenience for the churches which follow the intelligent Design doctrine (as if it were a scientific controversy instead of a religious controversy). When Imax is pressured to not show science and nature films because they make Christians feel uncomfortable it makes me uncomfortable.

In a related story the Dover, Pennsylvania High School, which has accepted a donation of the creationist textbook Of Pandas and People for use in class, is uncomfortable even allowing science books in its library.

Teach the real controversy is what I say, including the methods and machinations of the creationists.

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Sound of Silence. (And Some Light Vomiting)

I was checking up on the WorldChanging site when I discovered the following quote of Natalie Jeremijenko (I had never heard of her but then I have never heard of most people) in one of their articles:

"[At the Democratic and Republican conventions this past summer], the police threatened to deploy a sound weapon that concentrates sound energy on particular people and makes them tremendously nauseous."

I was thrilled at first but on rereading the context I realized that they were not planning to use it on the speakers at the conventions but on the protestors. Don't misunderestimate me here, I would love to see the Anti-Bush and Anti-Kerry, placard packing loonies bent over and heaving - the same way their empty slogans and vacuous chants make me feel. (One more freakin' "Hey-Hey, Hoe-Hoe!" chant and by Odin I will turn this planet to ash!)

The protestors however, are at least expressing their sincere if content-lacking views. The ones who really deserved a sonic heave are the speaking delegates who are expressing things they have been spoon fed by their parties' marketing divisions and never actually thought about. Not thinking about what you believe is the prime cause of right-wing people who hold left-wing ideals but are in denial about it and vise versa for the fascist left. A careful look at the left-wing/right-wing roulette wheel of thought will show numerous instances of party members who look like they were parachuted in because of some family tradition of partisan voting even though they are from some parallel universe where left is right and right is left. Looking a little further back in history will quickly show that entire issues like free-trade, civil rights and the roll of the government in society have switched parties without anyone batting an eyelash. This has the amusing consequence of the words "liberal" and "conservative" having acquired nearly the complete reverse meaning on different sides of the Atlantic. This made reading The Economist kind of a challenge when I was a lad, I can tell you.

More deserving still of the "words and lunch entanglement" blaster (W.A.L.E. blasters - cool!) are those speakers who actually have a brain and are capable of meaningful discourse and yet had chosen to spout meaningless platitudes, to fear monger about the "other side" (Like there really is one!) and to use every tool of bad reasoning they can think of on the loyal party rubes to this day. Keep together for the sake of unity. Let us not talk about what divides us. Informed dissent is more divisive than the silence illusion of consensus, after all. Diversity is good until in involves policy.

One day the economically literate Democrats and the libertarian Republicans will lift their faces out of the bag full of solvents that is politics on earth (from the first tribal chief to the commander in Chief) and realize what the rest of humanity, those of us without party membership cards, already know. That while the ballot box is a vital tool for depriving incompetent and corrupt people of power by a process similar to crop rotation (plow them under every four or five years), real power, the power to improve our lives, all our lives is achieved, not by lending our power to representatives, but in changing things ourselves.

That is why I love sites like Even if I am skeptical of some of the ideas and projects, they profile so many stories that seem to have a revolutionary potential. For example:

  • Ideas like a video game where the goal is to organize nonviolent action to topple an oppressive regime As Sim City provoked people to think about urban planning, A Force More Powerful asks you what you would do if your government started hating and distrusting its citizens. (A scenario that is not as close as some people think but is not as impossible as others think.) It is a practice simulation for the day when you wake up and realize that your country has became the next Serbia or Ukraine and the wall that must come down is running through your city. It is no wonder that politicians feel uneasy about video games. [Hey Congress, neither baseball nor Counter-Strike is the game you should be investigating. And while I have your attention... What the hell are erototoxins? I can't find that term in any textbook or medical journal or science paper. You want money to study these things so could you maybe provide a bottle of them for us to see?]
  • Projects like Adopt a mine field which can not run its commercials on American T.V. networks because the idea of children being blown up by land mines is too disturbing for American viewers to know about. Neither the Democrats nor Republicans have ever made a serious issue about increasing global funding for mine clearing, probably because they have not found a way of getting some pork barrel projects for their districts. Even if you believe that land mines are somehow valuable to military tools and are not, in fact intended to maim civilians, the idea that these things can just be left there without any attempt to remove them when you are done fighting is just fucking evil. Sorry for the language but if you can't say something is fucking evil when it is fucking evil, when can you say it?. Individuals can look at a site like this and ask, "What will improve the world more: making my annual donation to my political party or keeping kids from having their body parts ripped away from them?"
  • Concepts like leapfrogging. They didn't invent the concept but by assembling these stories on one page it helps you notice something important. While not all of the articles listed in this category would have struck the reader as earth shattering on their own, they form a pattern of activity that is having world changing consequences.
But then we could just sit around screaming at each other for being a member of the wrong party and occasionally pull out our vomit guns when we need a moment of peace. It is not the way I would go about changing the world but to each there freakin' own.

Now how do I get me one of those W.A.L.E. blasters. Some of my neighbors have been talking too loudly in the hallway again.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Capital Punishment Does Not Need to Kill.

Have you ever committed a misdemeanor? That may give ChoicePoint the legal right to ruin your life forever. No really, FOREVER. He he he, whoa Nellie! When you get to heaven and the Easter Bunny goes over your list of sins it will be cross referenced with the ChoicePoint database. And you thought the idea of them selling your identity to criminals was frightening.

But don't worry if you own shares in this company. First of all they probably have never issued any shares so whatever they sold you was probably printed in crayon on the back of a children's menu and so is already worthless. Secondly, I am sure either the courts or some new law being crafted in secret somewhere as you read this will protect ChoicePoint from any consequences from their actions. People don't screw up this hard, this often and this publicly without government assistance.

Canadians have been concerned recently because "our" Federal government has been using American companies to store our personal data which could potentially be seized by the American government and used against us in the interest of national security without telling us or giving us any recourse. (Nothing serious, just things like sending our citizens to Syria to be tortured without informing the Canadian government - you know, little annoyances) But now it is obvious we have nothing to worry about because the information they will be using against us won't even be true.

I feel much better! But why are my eye mussels doing that jumpy thing again? I have been waiting for my student loan reassessment to be processed so I can afford to start taking my sanity pills again, maybe that is it. Funny how those things take four weeks to work yet they stop working after four days.

(Now where was I... Oh yes!)

...and in conclusion Bush is a putz.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Could the Republican Party Please Stop Loving Canada. For Real This Time!

Before I get to the point of this post I need to clear up something, just to make sure we are all on the same page.

I was watching the left-wing but very witty show "This Hour Has 22 Minutes" on the Communist Broadcasting Corporation (I love the way Canadian state entities call themselves crown "corporations". Kind of like the way communist countries always called themselves "Peoples' Democratic..." such and such.)

Anyway... 22 minutes showed a clip of Pat Buchanan saying that the U.S. Of A. does not need any lectures from "Soviet Canuckistan" (that means us up here in Canada for you who don't speak Buchanier). Now 22 minutes rightly pointed out that our official name is "The Dominion of Soviet Canuckistan". But this clip brings me to the item which I want to clear up.

Pat Buchanan claims to be a Republican and he tries to talk the talk by throwing around insults like "soviet" and such. Does this actually fool any Americans? I mean even the least intelligent members of every nation have a basic degree of incredulity don't they? If Pat said he was a leprechaun with magical powers, most Americans would be able to figure out what he was full of without doing an exploratory surgery, right? Likewise Patty-o's claim to be on the right are not taken seriously by any American over the age of four, right? For God's sake, someone - tell me I'm right!

Let us see:

---Pat hates free trade.

---He supports protectionism at every level of society; believing that one of the principle purposes of the state is to protect consumers from getting high quality at the lowest prices (consumerism!) and to make sure that large American companies can use their purchasing power to gain access to high quality and highly tariffed resources and services from other countries, which smaller American companies can not do.

---He effectively wants the state to decide which companies and industries are likely to provide jobs now and in the future and use its power to shield these companies from their competitors within and outside the country.

---He defends this leftist platform by claiming that he is protecting American workers. Hmmm, sounds like he is planning a real good old workers' paradise.

---He does not seem to trust the Middle East with the responsibility of democracy (one wonders who he does trust with it).

All of this is assuming he has not had a complete brain transplant since he last campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination. His article above suggests that is not the case. That campaign was the last time that any media organization was stupid enough to give him a national forum for his views on anything but the slowest news day.

It is obvious that at some point during his "education" Pat Buchanan read a favorable review of "The Wealth of Nations" by Adam Smith and thought it was referring to "Das Kapital" by Karl Marx. I never thought I would say this about anyone but Pat-oramma is even too left-wing to be comfortable in Canada. When he refers to Canada as "soviet", it is not a conscious attempt to insult but a Freudian slip of wishful thinking. In fact, when you throw in his distrust of foreigners and their corrupting influence, I am unable to think of a single non religious, non facial hair related difference between Fidel Castro and Pat Buchanan. Granted that Patty-o man does not seem to want to imprison his critics. Though, he has yet to be elected as president for life has he not? It might be a good prediction for a scientific experiment to see if Pat and Fidel were separated at birth. Give the Buchanier the post of president for life and clock the rate at which he starts arresting journalists, economists and human rights activists. Compare with Fideler on the roof and also compare their genes for signs of a recent common ancestor ("Fideler on the roof" is not an anti-Jewish joke [Shalom!], I am just running out of clever plays on peoples' names. I can't let Canuckistan be the most clever turn of phrase in this post.)

Now the criticism that Canada is too left wing and should not be lecturing the U.S. is perfectly sound. (Though this is ironic given the number of riot acts our country has had to sit through from every American politician - head of state on down to penny-ante senators and congressmen. Like becoming a congress man qualifies you for anything. Most states elect any guy with a law degree. But I digress.) Pat Buchanan's faculties however, are anything but sound and listening to him criticize us for being too left-wing is like having one of those Sesame Street muppets who can't count past five criticize your math skills; it's not really a message that is going to be received by its target audience. Patato Buchanan is analogous to a soviet muppet. Not to mention the physical resemblance. I wonder if the U.N. hires muppets? Pat would be a natural there. After reading this you could refer to my last post about the U.N. for insights as to why Pat and the U.N. would make a nice match.

Now that we all agree that Pat is the type of guy that wants to take the irony out of the term "red state" (in other words he is so far to the left that he needs a hammer and a sickle to reach an itch on the right side of his ass) because those who disagreed have had their heads explode with the pressure of holding contradictory belief systems, I can move on to the point of the post.
Unbeknownst to most Americans, there are more than one political position in Canada. In fact, we are so diverse politically that we have two types of left-wing people in Canada (there used to be two types of right-wing people in Canada but they all went into a room together and one type disappeared!!!). There are the hemp wearing/rock throwing peace protester and university social science left of the N.D.P., Sheila Copps and that pseudo-chick who swore like a sailor when anyone mentioned Americans or Bush. (She has now returned to the left shore of the primordial ooze.) This left is hereafter known as the loony left. There is also the socially liberal center-left who are truly in power. While financially corrupt like all governments, they can at least balance a budget (they are officially known as the Liberal Party of Canada but are hereafter referred to as the reigning left).

The reigning left, until recently respected America but then the Bush administration started to campaigning on behalf of the loony left in Canada by pissing on the reigning left for pretending to have its own foreign and domestic policy. Bush hopes to achieve regime change in Canada by destabilizing the minority government of the reigning left and hopes this will play out well for the right-wing opposition party in the next election. They quietly support missile defense and the idea of sending Canadian troupes to Iraq proper rather than having them pound sand in Jordan, training Iraqi police. Unfortunately for all concerned, Bush is not as good at overthrowing a popular democratic state through subtle political maneuvering as the U.S. armed forces are at overthrowing unpopular dictators by kicking ass. In addition to strengthening the position of the loony left in this country with his and his party's angry parent of the continent act over the last three months, he has put the right-wing opposition party of Canada, the one group of Canadians that wants to be on his side, in a position where they can not win for trying. He tells them that they should be more vocal on pro-Bush issues like missile defense which are very unpopular in Canada. This means they either agree and look like weak willed ass kissers who can't stick up even for their own performance as the opposition under American criticism let alone the sovereignty of the nation, or they stand up against these pressures and alienate the core right-wing support that the party of the right depends on.

Bush has managed to destabilize the political landscape in Canada. To bad he tilted it the wrong way. When the next Canadian election comes about, either the right will collapse again after struggling to restore its legitimacy and give Prime Minister Martin's party a return to majority (this is the best outcome Bush can hope for now) or the voters will toss out any reigning left representatives who seemed too close to U.S. interests and support the loony left to the extent that the reigning left will need their support to form and maintain a minority government. If the Republicans thought that dealing with Canada was aggravating in the past, just wait till they have to deal with the "improvements" they have been encouraging. Meanwhile they at least can ignore Canada for 99% of the year. I on the other hand need to live hear full time. Thank you Bush, you are a putz!

I renew my call for the U.S.A. to stop trying to improve relations with Canada at least until they can find someone who is competent to act as a mediator. Cut off relations with us now before you turn my nation into the next failed state and potential terrorist threat. I am begging you, don't do to us what you did to Cuba. If you want to know why Canada is even more left-wing and anti-American these days ask the Republicans. They seem to want it this way. We had been headed in the other direction for some time before they started to love us so much. Thank you Republicans, (See above comment on Bush.)

Monday, March 14, 2005

U.N. Sinks Below the Bottom.

Here is one more piece of proof that the United Nations has a crap to cranium ratio that wildly exceeds the safety margins in humans and even the theoretical limit known to medicine. If the U.N. would donate the contents of their bureaucrats' heads to agriculture, the mass of raw, steaming manure could fertilize the Sahara six times over.

If the day ever comes when the U.N. decides to reform itself from an expensive, inefficient and useless pile of crapulence to an expensive, inefficient and borderline useful pile of crapulence, I will personally ride the first flying pig in the sashquatch parade. Why does the U.S. let these sleazoids use their soil? Send them back to Europe where they and the European parliament (that other unaccountable band of lowlife losers) can play and sing and pontificate. Maybe they could invite the Vatican and play hide-and-seek with their last shreds of relevance to the modern world. The hills are alive with the sound of parasites. I did not want to use parasite there but there is no word for someone or something that gleefully betrays and brings shame upon their entire species. Parasite will have to stand in until a word is invented to describe such an entity.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Evolution - Here I Stand! I Can Do Nuttin' Else.

I got an interesting comment about my last post so I thought I would answer it in the form of a post. I hope this does not breach some kind of blogging etiquette.

Robert said...

I would like to turn your arguments in the comment thread of your last post back to you.

"For those of us that not only accept evolution but are interested in it..." My question is simply: why have you seemingly put your skepticism aside for the purpose of "accepting" evolution? Before I'm accused of being a "creationist", note that I have heretofore made no such claim. It just strikes me as inconsistent for you to assent to a theory that has yet to be conclusively proven. Granted, the preponderance of evidence may strongly suggest it's validity. I postulate that one relies more heavily upon conjecture to bridge the gaps in the fossil record than one for whom the Bible is supporting evidence for the existence God. ;)

Good question. It all boils down to what I have personally learned and the fact that our standards for whether or not a theory has "yet to be conclusively proven" are different.

I have been interested in many fields of science to varying degrees since childhood . I am even currently working on a more formal education in Biology at University after being in the civil service for a spell. However I should go back a bit in my education to explain how I accepted evolution.

There came a point in high school where I had been reading about Darwin on my own (school I was at had a Catholic nun on the board so the science teacher did not dwell long on the topic) when it suddenly clicked as to how things like survivability and viability of an organism would affect how often it would be able to pass on its genes and thus how widely those genes would be expressed. If new genes were emerging at a slow but constant rate (I would only learn how later in my education), there could be no other outcome than for those genes to be either screened out by killing the organism or preventing mating, or spread into the greater population where they would either increase or decrease in frequency based on the probability of survival for all individuals that had them. Over time, all non lethal genes would be tested and either pushed out or achieve some fraction of penetration in the population. For really useful genes, that fraction would be 100%. What else was possible? Could genes and combinations of genes that made an animal more adapted to its environment, more likely to survive and reproduce become less prevalent over time? Would traits that left one unable to find mates or food gradually take over a population. The logic seemed pretty unassailable.

As I went through some university (followed by a temporary escape from academia) and also pursued my education on a personal level, I was aware that the theory was not accepted by a large fraction of people, almost all of whom were outside the scientific community like philosophers, theologians, normal every-day people and graduates from Bible colleges. Those few who were scientists tended to be physicists, mathematicians... people with little or no background in biology. While this itself does not discredit their arguments it is worth considering their lack of education in the field they are criticizing. I read the arguments by creationists of various types and backgrounds - young earth, old earth, left-wing relativists, right-wing fundamentalists, Christians, Hindus, Intelligent Design theorists and all of their points were easily and repeatedly addressed by evolutionists. This did not dispel the points though; they kept repeating the same tired criticisms year after year like appealing to thermodynamics (as if earth were a closed system). Only occasionally coming up with something new but equally fallacious.

I can't remember exactly when it happened that I went from feeling that evolution was the most likely theory to account for the natural world to being certain that it was the only theory that was consistent with everything I had learned and discovered. I gradually became struck by the fact that all of these different fields I had been interested in (due to their fundamental significance to questions like: Who are we? What is life? What is reality? etc.) were all pointing in the same direction. Observations from fields including biology (from molecular and population genetic to embryology to cellular, right up to the ecosystem level), anthropology (paleoanthropology, primatology,) cosmology, computer science, geology (to the limited extent that I was interested) were all delivering information that fit in perfectly with the evolutionary model and yet were virtually impossible to account for in the absence of that model. Is it likely that God or some other power would have created a universe that was perfectly and completely designed to look like an evolutionary one and which had laws of physics and principals of biology that would allow - no insist - that evolution happen, and yet this same entity would somehow prevent evolution from occurring?

As far as the "gaps in the fossil record" and the "lack of intermediate fossils" as opponents of evolution often claim exist... quite frankly, it is not entirely true. It is true that there has never been a discovery of millions of individual fossils from successive species, lined up like a Soviet bread queue so we can see a skeleton from every thousand years and play them back like a flip book. That being said, the museums and universities of the world are filled with drawers and drawers full of fossils that show individuals of species that share more traits with those organisms that are found in similarly dated rock and fewer with those that are further removed in geological time. Many intermediate species have been found.

In the ape to human branch of the fossil record we should expect there to be few fossils due to the short geological time frame involved and yet we do have a significant number of intermediate fossils. Take a look at this site. Notice how the top row of modern ape skulls is so distinct from the lower row of humans. Then look at the middle rows. What possible reason could there be for finding old skulls that share traits of both apes and humans even though neither modern apes nor humans are seen today with skulls of this shape and yet find no modern looking human skulls before about 180,000 years ago? Given the amount of evidence for evolution of other species like mammals, amphibians etc. and the transitional forms in the fossil record (not to mention egg laying mammals like the platypus), does it really take much faith or "conjecture" to conclude that these skulls belonged to various intermediate proto-humans?

I have not gone in to the topic of vestigial organs and tissues or the genetic evidence for evolution like how neutral mutations accumulate in a manner that can be used to compare species' genetic similarity and how these changes correlate with the fossil record to a such a degree that would not be expected without evolution because I am getting tired now. Perhaps in another post.

Skepticism is not an absolute law but a set of principals. Believing something in the absence of sufficient evidence goes against these principles. Believing something despite sufficient evidence to the contrary is also. How much evidence is sufficient though is a judgment call.

When all of the information and observations that I have been able to obtain (a considerable amount, I feel), not only support a theory but are in many cases are incomprehensible without the theory; when all arguments and opposing claims I have seen are inconsistent with reason and available evidence; when there are no competing claims, I am willing to conclude that the theory has been proven conclusively. For any theory to displace it or for any argument to challenge it in my mind, I would have to see how it could account for all or at least much of what evolution does. For instance if an elf were to appear, prove to me that he could make universes and explain to me why and how he had created a universe designed to trick us, I would certainly reevaluate the modern evolutionary model. I would not however feel foolish since he seems to have put on one hell of a show.

That does not mean that the evolutionary theory is finished. There will no doubt be things we learn about evolution as we continue to study life both past and present. In fact, only a few months ago I was reading about the work of a mathematician with computer simulations that showed how a species can be divided into two separate breeding populations by a single selective pressure long before any mutations occur. Before this many biologists assumed that a population would need to be separated by geography and accumulate mutations before they would be unable (or unwilling) to interbreed. Not only did the simulations support his point but it made perfect logical sense as well. I have been meaning to do a post about it as soon as I can track down the article.

In closing here are a couple of extra links on the issue. The first one is my favorite because it represents an entirely new form of evolution to study.

P.S. I will be away for a few days so I may or may not post this week. I am trusting the Internet to be on its best behavior in my absence so no monkey business!

Monday, March 07, 2005

Walking Tall

For those of us that not only accept evolution but are interested in it there has been a discovery in Ethiopia that is very exciting. I know, just another hominid, eh? Well this is the oldest bipedal ape found. What makes this really interesting is...

"This skeleton helps us to understand what happened in the joints, how walking upright occurred, what we never had before" stated one of the paleontologists working on the project.

The creature was determined to have been bipedal due to its ankle structure but as the earliest one found it could help provide a significant new frame in the picture show of our development.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Jesus fish or Carpus christie is able to employ two defense strategies. The first is to escape danger by turning water into red wine, thereby escaping in the confusion. This behavior has not been scientifically documented but it sounds plausible. The second method is to attract a school of gullible guppies to surround it. This shields the Carpus christie from danger and criticism.

Carpus christie has been known to attack Jew fish without provocation and sometimes demonstrates irrational behavior. They are a favorite among catch and release sport fishermen due to their ability to revive after extended periods out of water. The record is three days.

Despite these amazing qualities Carpus christie is on the decline due to its tendency to avoid mating and its use of parthenogenesis to reproduce. Posted by Hello

Friday, March 04, 2005

Christians Fight to Discredit God

It all makes sense now. The attacks on the cartoon sponge, the burning desire to stamp the ten commandments onto the forehead of every person who enters a court house (only Christians commit crimes it seems), the weak condemnation of organized sex abuse conspiracies contrasted with a "sky is falling" fear of gay marriage. Christians are stopping at nothing to annoy their fellow citizens and blame it on God; they even have resorted to spiritual spam. The final clue was that religious groups are now gladly making up for declining revenue by becoming pseudo-bureaucrats (no responsibility or effectiveness studies, just the Holy Spirit's dentures firmly clenched on the government teat). Why are they making God look like a knuckle-head?

As usual, I have an answer.

Christians seem to have decided that God has taken too long to end the world because there are too many luke-warm Christians about. He is not going to make with the fire and brimstone as long as earth seems like a relatively Godly place. They have engaged on a campaign to discredit God to the point that no moderate Christian could stomach the scam, leaving only the hardened God fearing crowd in a sea of unbelievers and ripe for rapture.

You may think this unbelievable but is it more believable that Christianity set out to take over the Republican party and got digested by it accidentally? No, they know what they are doing (sort of) and when the end comes, only those with a faith that is strong enough to completely override reason and ethics is the key to the kingdom. Strangely enough, as an atheist, I find myself in the unfamiliar position of wishing them the best in this endeavor. Finally, something both the non religious and the evangelist folk can work together on. Discrediting God for the good of humanity. Lets all come together to make Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah look like he is hopped up on goof-balls.

They are more clever than I gave them credit for (sort of).

Demon Weed - Malevolent Monopoly

Across Canada the media is pontificating about the tragic deaths of four RCMP officers at a marijuana grow-op in Alberta. As I ate breakfast this morning some high level police official on the state run radio took the opportunity to tell all of Canada that this is an example of how marijuana is destroying our society and should not be legalized. He then stated that now is a time for mourning and not for politics. I love that. "Here is my argument in full but lets not here any dissenting arguments right now, it wouldn't be appropriate."

Now the fact that Sheriff Sophistry feels no shame in using his position to exploit the deaths of four brave officers who in all fairness may have supported his position is not what gauls me. What really gauls me is the "solution" that the government has had in mind for this for sometime. Legalize or decriminalize you say? Nope, that would require intelligence. What they are going to do is increase the penalty for growing and trafficking while making simple possession punishable by a fine that would not result in a criminal record. People hear the last part and think it is decriminalization. What the results of this will be is to discourage the few mom and pop grow-ops and transfer the money that would have been going to them to the organized crime operations that are run by people willing to risk hard time in exchange for high returns. It will also make these more psychopathic growers more ready to shoot their way out rather than go peacefully and lose fourteen years of their life. It is a solution only a government could come up with.

As this "fix nothing but find a compromise" bill makes its way through the parliamentary plumbing system it is at least stimulating some debate - most of it ill informed. I have heard a lot of arguments recently against marijuana in the last few days and they all can be countered by glaringly obvious challenges. The funniest I have heard is that kids who smoke pot all night can't perform well in school. Um... are the kids that drink beer all night on the honor roll? In fact two retorts can address virtually all societal problems caused by marijuana:

1) The same can be said about alcohol.

2) We would not have that problem if we did not grant a market monopoly to organized crime.

A more eloquent argument against prohibition is written by Martin O'Malley it has the odd quality of calling for the army to help tackle grow-ops, then giving an argument against prohibition. The Army suggestion seems to be a teaser to get conservatives to read the article.

Recently the Public Safety Minister and former Justice Minister, Anne McLellan was quoted as saying:

"The one thing that police will tell you is that illegal grow ops exist community by community and sometimes street by street,"

Great! Send the army house to house. This brings me to the best reason for calling for peace in the drug war. It is driving people insane. Politicians in democratic countries are criminalizing even speaking in favor of ending prohibition. In some cases banning simple factual information about the effects of drugs. Police and anti-drug groups have started believing that lying to kids will make them trust you (Does anyone think that kids are stupid enough to believe cops when they say marijuana is as addictive as heroine? Is the Gateway/slippery slope fallacy taken seriously by anyone anymore?). More and more often police are seeking powers and exemption from regulation to deal with drugs that were considered the quality of third world police states not so long ago.

So in closing, I ask this question: If not doing pot is so good for your brain, why are those opposed to marijuana so irrational? Why are those against prohibition so rational?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Trackback and HaloScan are Watching

Acting on a comment on a recent post I have added Trackback (sounds like some sinister government program to track your groceries and profile your psychological state based on how much tinfoil you buy) and HaloScan (a neck embedded bar coding system for those mega churches to keep track of tithing) to the site. At first it seemed to wipe out all the pre-existing comments. It seems that it has not affected the permanent versions of posts so it is a mere inconvenience. If you want to see comments to recent posts you still can by opening the permanent link. Here I am, a newbie blogger and just learning about http "tags" and such and I go and get myself Haloscaned and Trackbacked. My head is spinning. I am going to go lie down.

After being locked out of Haloscan all day so I could not change the settings easily (probably because I gave them a slightly incorrect e-mail address - ~blush~) I was able to manipulate the arcane symbols on the template so that I am using Blogger comments but have Trackback as well. I rock! Let me know if anything does not work.

Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Separation of Church and State? You Commies!

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay believes there is no constitutional guaranty of separation of church and state. Like many illiterates he believes that when the constitution says:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." it means that they can make no law respecting an establishment of "a" religion - meaning a specific religion. People like Tom have been trying to get access to the constitution so they can pencil that "a" in but as of this writing they have not been successful.

Something I find more shocking that the fact that the House Majority leader can not read is the fact that he can not even understand the need for such a separation. What kind of a moron (out side of a few of the more nut bucket-like churches that handle snakes and sleep with their cousins) still thinks that God would be caught dead using the state as an instrument? If God can not get off his ass to pester the non-religious people of earth himself, what makes him think that he wants bureaucrats to do it for him? Where in the Bible does it say:

"Low, I wish you to use every tool of government to instill respect in me, so that every mouth that might criticize me might be silenced and have eternal life. Annoy the unbelievers ceaselessly and put praise to me on you coins. Tell the children to swear loyalty to the nation through me so that unbelievers shall be pissed off. Yea that doth amuse me greatly. Tell the unbelievers that they are not citizens of your nation so that I should not be disturbed by their doubtings."

Maybe after DeLay learns to read he can look that passage up for me.

Jebus freaks can at least take comfort in the fact that it only seems to apply to congress so states can become full fledged theocracies if they want. I am not a constitutional lawyer though so you might want to check that out before you start beating you kids and keeping concubines.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Condoleezza Rice Tries to Snub Canada

UPDATE: Even Jesus' favorite newspaper says not to blame Canada. So there Condi, you sinner!

Condoleezza Rice will not be visiting Canada as planned, leading Canadians everywhere to almost care.

every time an American politician notices Canada it is to:

A) Announce an intention to violate trade deals or make claims that Canada is doing so, only to be proven wrong later by the dispute resolution bodies.

B) Criticize Canada.

C) Ask for an annoying favor.

In a recent Canadian Press article some of the possible consequences are discussed by "analysts" all of them apparently good (the consequences not the analysts).

One U.S. official emitted a deep, extended laugh when asked for an assessment of the prime minister and said Canada no longer qualifies as a trusted ally." Thank God. I love America but we have been hoping the U.S. would stop trusting us since before the second world war. The more the U.S. trusts us the more they ask of us and the less credit we get when we obey.

Why do nations need to pretend to be friends? They are lifeless soulless political entities that have interests and goals the way a program can have interests or goals (download a file, detect a spelling mistake) but they don't have friends.
It is like this whole patriotism crap. If you are loving something that can't love you back there is something wrong with you. Likewise if you think of your country as having friends or of another country as hurting it's feelings, you need to look in the mirror and admit out loud - "I am a nut bucket." Nations can cooperate; they can not befriend each other. If your view of a people is governed by how your nation feels about their nation you are mentally unsound. I have witnessed and been repulsed by this all my life with Canadians who define their identity by being not American and now, thanks to the Internet, I can witness it on right-wing American web sites where Canada is a sissy and America should stop playing with "her". I can now also watch the same behavior from anonymous U.S. officials in the press.

If he had any hope the United States would help him create his cherished G-20 group of world leaders, those hopes may have been extinguished permanently." Nothing against Paul Martin's glorious vision but why is another group of heads of state crowding together, tying up traffic and attracting left-wing nut bucket protestors while they pontificate a good idea again? And why are 20 of these bums meeting better than 7? I am sure Paul will get over the loss and I am sure we will all be better for it.

Analysts (which is technically what I am right now so why anyone should listen to them and not me is unclear) are quick to point out that this should not directly affect our trade relations...

But Canada's refusal to sign on to the missile plan could further marginalize its concerns and interests when trade-related issues like softwood lumber appear before U.S. Congress, said one Calgary observer."

Lets hope so you cute little Calgary observer (is that a job title and if so how many are there?), because when these interests were not marginalized we were kind of getting the shaft.

In short, tell Condi that we were sorry she could not make it but I am sure the Dew-Drop Inn where we were going to put her up will be able to book the room to someone else in time - possibly to one of the many Calgary observers who no doubt vacation in Ottawa. If any other U.S. politicians would like to snub Canada please feel free to do so. It seems to be a win-win situation.

And please Mr President, (I know you read this blog don't try to deny it) could you not come to Canada to improve relations anymore? It really is not something you are very good at.

Soft on Crime

The U.S. court system has banned capital punishment for people under 18.

Now my position on offing people is complex. I certainly feel there are people who deserve it. I could even volunteer some people if society ran out of criminals. There are, however, only two avenues that society has to accomplish this. The first is an angry mob of the community's lowest common denounciators. The other is the state. There have been a number of cases in Canada and the U.S. where, even when provided with glaring evidence that someone was wrongly convicted, the police and government prosecutors have fallen back on the "he was convicted in a court of law so he is guilty" rational for opposing any investigation or appeal. It does not matter how many witnesses recant, how many revelations of forced confessions come out, how much evidence was fabricated. He was convicted. He is guilty. "I won, damn it!" seems to be some kind of legal principal. In short, I would take my chances with the angry mob.

But if the U.S. stops treating everyone as responsible under the law they may end up with a situation like this. Babies running loose on the streets looting and causing criminal damage. I shudder to think what these kids would have been like if they had been born into the presence of video games and music videos.

Is this the kind of world you want? Well not me. Smaller tables for smaller executions! Use a T.V. tray if you have to. Once they are out of the womb even the pro-life crowd stop caring. If they are old enough to commit crimes against the laws of man, God or nature they should pay the piper. The piper being the nation's police and prosecutors, at least until we can get some torches for that mob. But then I was not taught logic and reason in school, remember?


Day By Day© by Chris Muir.