For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Getting stung by Sting

Don't you just love it when celebrities stick their heads up and weigh in on politics?  I don't mean the ones that are politically active on their own time. I mean the ones that normally have nothing to do with politics (or whatever the topic du jour happens to be).

This time, it's Sting that has popped up in praise of Obama, putting forward this fascinating observation...

He says Obama’s opponents are “aggressive and violent and full of fear.” 
Unlike 8 years of anti-Bush folks, who were aggressive, violent and full of hate.

It's okay now, Sting.  You can duck your head back into oblivion again.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A new one for my bookmarks...

We're Chuck Norris fans in this household, but now I think he's all sorts of awesome.  I didn't realize he had a regular column.  Nothing unusual about that, I suppose.  A lot of celebrities write publicly in one form or another.  Some are good.  Some go a long way to proving the vapidness of Hollywood.  Norris' columns are exceptional, whether or not you agree with him.  He writes well, intelligently, and is thoroughly knowledgeable when it comes to his topics.  How many politicians can say they've read the treaties and proposals he writes about? 

Monday, October 26, 2009

Spots on othe windshield

Forgive me for a bit of rambling, but I'm sick with a head cold right now, so lucid moments are rather few and far between today. *L*

In 1954, in Seattle Washington, people began to notice something strange.  Pits, spots, dings and holes began to appear on the windshields of their cars.

At first, it was blamed on vandals.  However, as more and more people reported the mysterious appearance of these spots and pits on their windshields, increasingly fantastic causes were entertained.  BB guns, sand flea eggs, military radio transmissions, cosmic rays, shifts in the Earth's magnetic field, and even supernatural sources were blamed.  Some people reported seeing the glass bubble before their very eyes.  The first reports emerged at the end of March, but by the middle of April, there were 3000 cases reported and people were freaking out.

In the end, it was determined that the pits were always there.  It wasn't until word of the pitting started getting reported by the media that people actually started looking at their windshields closely.  After all, people usually look through their windshields, not at them.  Suddenly they were seeing the pits they'd never noticed before.

What had really happened was another outbreak of what's now called mass hysteria. A varient of this is the nocebo effect, where people's belief that something is harmful is so complete, that they will display physical symptoms of illness, even when there is no cause.There is nothing fake about what these people are feeling, which is what makes the nocebo effect and the larger mass hysteria so potentially dangerous.

I find myself thinking of such things as I go through my morning news and continue my research into the mess surrounding AGW/climate change/whatevertheycallitnow.  How is it that groups like the Caitlin Arctic Survey can have so many struggles due to the cold, including equipment failures and endangerment of their own lives, find ice thicker than expected, find more multi-year ice than expected, all during a time when Arctic ice had increased by 25%, only to come back and report that the North Polar ice is disappearing faster then anyone predicted?  How can we seen increases in total ice coverage in Antarctica, but only see headlines claiming Antarctic ice is melting every faster?  How can people see temperatures plummet around the world while CO2 levels continue to increase, yet claim global temperatures are increasing, and that CO2 is the cause?

The Food Network show, Food Detectives, demonstrated an example of this when looking into the effects of MSG.  Scientific testing repeatedly show that MSG doesn't negatively effect our health, yet people insist that it does.  When serving 30 people the exact same meal in a Chinese restaurant, under the belief they were doing a taste test, they served half the room the meal with MSG, the other without.  Of the 6 people who claimed they felt the effects of MSG from the food they ate, 5 of them had been served the MSG free meal.

Likewise, I hear people talk about how strange the weather has been lately.  It's never been so warm before... or so cold.  It's never been this wet, or this dry.  Spring has been coming earlier.  No, it's been coming later.  Of course, they all blame it on AGW.  Never mind that historical data shows that there's nothing unusual about the local weather.  They're seeing the spots on the windshield for the first time.  Suddenly, having become aware of this thing called Anthropogenic Global Warming, they are seeing signs of it wherever they turn.

It's the only reason I can think of for otherwise intelligent, thoughtful people to throw all logic to the wind and support "interventions" that won't even do anything to effect climate, whether it's carbon capture or cap and trade schemes, throw billions of dollars away on carbon credits, or accept increasingly draconian limitations to our freedoms.  Some even go so far as to try and deny freedom of speech to anyone who disagrees.  I'm not talking politicians or celebrity "scientists," here.  I'm talking regular folks who become so incensed at the suggestion they might be wrong, they verbally attack their "opponent" with insults and threats, or simply shut down even the potential for dissenting voices before they happen - a form of online censorship I've experienced a few times already.

They just can't seem to be able to handle someone pointing out that the spots on their windshield were already there.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Emergency! Emergency!

In the news this morning... Pres. Obama has declared an H1N1 state of emergency.  I actually tried to watch some tv news last night (man, sometimes I wish we could stop our cable...) and they were showing people who'd lined up for hours, even camping overnight, for the flu shot.

I actually know a few people who've had H1N1 (or Swine Flu, as the CBC continues to insist on calling it).  They found it the mildest flu they've ever had, and would take H1N1 over regular flu any day.  One woman, who discovered she's had H1N1 only because she'd gone to the dr. for something else afterwards, was told by her doctor he doesn't even bother testing for it anymore.  For a while, everyone who came in with the flu was being tested, and they all came back positive.  As the dr. put it, H1N1 is this year's flu, and that the majority of people had very mild symptoms, compared to regular flu.  Only one person got pneumonia afterwards, and was told it'll take her up to a year to recover from that.

Not everyone is throwing common sense out the window.  In the Vancouver Sun, there's this...

With few exceptions, most of the 86 deaths in Canada (nine in B.C.) attributed to H1N1 as of Oct. 22 have been linked to underlying medical conditions.
In fact, most documented cases of swine flu have been mild ones, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada, which also reminds us that other flu strains account for between 2,000 and 8,000 Canadian deaths each year.
Today's National Post front page headline is, Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Flu?  In Pandemic paranoia: Are fears justified or overblown? they write...

To be sure, the H1N1 virus is cause for concern. It has appeared in 191 countries, struck roughly 400,000 people globally and claimed the lives of at least 5,000 people. However the virus, a novel strain of influenza that can be treated with two widely available drugs and for which there is an effective vaccine, has killed fewer people over the past six months than the seasonal flu kills every six days. Yet fear of the flu has spread ferociously, as if H1N1 anxiety were more contagious than the virus itself.
"It appears that the global health community, including the WHO, is committed to worst-case thinking," said Frank Furedi, professor of Sociology at the University of Kent and author of Politics of Fear, Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? "Health officials are today framing medical problems like H1N1 as threats to human existence."
For Mr. Ferudi, much of the language surrounding the flu is inflammatory and does little more than instil a paralyzing paranoia among a species already programmed for fight or flight and which increasingly views any uncertainty as a threat. Fear, of course, can be a positive emotion that protects people from taking dangerous risks, and is partly credited for humankind's early abilities to survive. But fear can likewise manifest into debilitating paranoia, and prevent people from engaging healthily in society.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You know, folks, that he's not president anymore, right?

First, Calgary.  Then Edmonton, Saskatoon and now Montreal.  Former president George W. Bush has been doing speaking engagements.  At every venue, there have been protestors.

Police fend of protesters at Bush speech in Montreal

MONTREAL – As George W. Bush joked with a business crowd inside a historic hotel ballroom Thursday, hundreds of people outside the room cheered while he was being burned in effigy.
Police in riot gear and others on horseback held back a crowd of hundreds, including several people who tossed shoes at the Queen Elizabeth hotel in a demonstration of disdain for the man speaking inside.
Two protesters tried forcing their way through the line of shield- and baton-carrying police, were wrestled to the ground, and arrested.

What's funny is that, these are the same types of people who claim Pres. Obama is being treated so badly by those racist, redneck Republicans.  Can you imagine if protestors were doing the exact same thing in front of a venue Obama was speaking at?  But somehow, it's acceptable if the speaker is Bush.

These people seem to be forgeting that Bush isn't president anymore.  They're also ignoring the fact that Obama is continuing quite a few of the Bush policies these people are protesting.

Don't you just love double standards?

update:  For the point of view of someone who actually saw GWB speak, check out Dr. Roy's blog. Like every other review I've heard so far, the venue was sold out and GWB recieved several standing ovations.  All without teleprompters, too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things that happen while we're away... (trying again)

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.  We were able to spend our Thanksgiving back in Manitoba, with a double family reunion. We did a lot of driving - including some rather dangerous driving in near whiteout conditions at night - and a lot of bouncing back and forth between Dh's parents' place and my family farm.  We got to see almost all our family.  One of my SILs and her daughter made a weekend trip to the US rather than join the rest of us for our family reunion.  Nice to know how high we rate on their priority list.  After all, it's only been four years since we've seen them. ;-)  No, it doesn't really bother me.  I'm more amused than anything else.

*sigh*  I was going to write a longer post, but Dh keeps MSN'ing me and sending me off to look at things. I'll have to try this again later on...

Second attempt: Oct. 16

Wow.  It took a while to get back to this. :-P

Our Thanksgiving was a full and hectic time of bouncing between my family farm and the in-laws in a neighbouring town, as well as a couple of visits with old friends squeezed in.  My husband brought his laptop along, expecting to be able to do a bit of work.  That didn't quite happen, we he found the hotel's internet connection was insecure wireless.  Not something he can make use of. So while I wasn't able to get my daily news browsing in, I did at least catch a few headlines.

When I first heard the Pres. Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize, it was little more than a rumour.  It wasn't until we got home that I had a chance to catch up on it.  Having already been awarded to the likes of Yassar Arafat and Al Gore, it's already become pretty meaningless, but this really takes the cake.  Especially when you stop and realize that, in order to win the prize, someone had to have nominated Obama after he'd been president for only 2 weeks.  Nominating is one thing, but for the Nobel committee to actually award it to him is pretty ludicrous.  Sure, Obama might someday do something to warrent such an award, but he hasn't done anything yet.  To be fair, Obama publicly stated that he didn't think he deserved it, either.  That didn't stop him from accepting it, though.  The appropriate thing to do would have been to turn it down with thanks and respect.

(H/T to Dr. Roy for the video)

It seems to me that Pres. Obama won the Peace Prize the same way he got elected - not for the things he is, but for the things he's not.  He's not GW Bush.  He's not white.  He's not old.  He's not Republican.  He's not female. 

This whole fiasco has managed to make an already worthless prize even more meaningless.

Closer to home, a tragedy unfolded over the time we were gone.  Just before we'd left, I caught stories about a bath house fire in Winnipeg, killing two.  It wasn't until we came back that I discovered one of the young men killed, someone I didn't know personally at all, is the son of a couple I've known most of my life.  Learning more about it, I wish I had known him.  He sounds like someone I would have really liked.  A facebook group in his memory already has over a thousand members.  At the same time, I can't help but cringing, and feel the need to somehow contact his parents and apologize ahead of time for anything my mother might say to them.  This young man was openly gay and performed in drag (some fabulous photos of him on the facebook group).  Entertaining was his life, and I'd love to have seen him perform.  My mother, however, is a homophobic religous fanatic, and I know she'd say something horrible to his parents.  It's bad enough that freaked out group of gay haters in the US have said they plan to attend and disrupt his funeral.  While hurtful, they're still strangers and easily dismissed.  It's not quite the same hearing their sort of poison from someone you've known all  your life, and my mother has known both his parents since they were born.

In somewhat more cheerful news, Cirque du Soleil founder and space tourist, Guy Laliberte, is back on earth.  He actually performed in space!  Now there's a challange.  Laliberte is the founder of the One Drop Foundation, who's goal is combating poverty through clean water.  A laudible goal, though with associations with Gore and Suzuki, I doubt it'll accomplish much.  Laliberte paid $35 million to go into space.  While I certainly wouldn't presume to tell anyone how they should spend their own money, it seems obvious to me that that money could have gone a long way towards providing safe water to people without. If someone has the money to pay for a trip into space, more power to them, but to do so while promoting a cause that could really use those millions seems rather hypocritical to me.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Our PM in action...

What a hoot!

I do remember vaguely hearing that he could play the piano, but his singing is all right, too. 

Who'da thunk it?

Sunday, October 04, 2009

SG: Universe and the post AGW paradigm switch

While doing some crochet the other night, I decided to see if there was anything in the 500 channels we now get that's worth watching.  The premiere of Stargate: Universe was pretty much the only thing on worth watching.  I'd already missed the first 20 minutes or so, but I decided to watch the rest, anyway.  I started right in the evacuation scene, just before the planet blows up, so that made for some confused watching for a while. *L*

After this point, the show follows the surviving evacuees that ended up on an abandoned alien space ship for some reason I never quite caught onto.  The ship is damaged and leaking air - hence the title of the premier, Air, I suppose.

Now, I like sci fi, though I don't really watch a lot of it anymore. TV series like Star Trek, Battlestar Gallactica and Buck Rogers were things I enjoyed as a kid.  The Star Wars movies, Enemy Mine, The Last Starfighter were some of the movies.  More recently, we've discovered the Firefly series (it came out at a time when we had no tv, so we never saw it when it first came out), etc.

Most sci fi movies set in space will, at some point, deal with that greatest of dangers in space: lack of air.  So it's no surprise that SGU dealt with it right from the start.  What was different was how it was protrayed.

Picture this for a moment.  Imagine yourself as a character in a sci fi story.  You're on a ship, lost in space.  The ship is damaged and leaking air.  So what is your greatest concern?

Well, always before, the concern was lack of breathable oxygen.  If your ship is leaking its internal atmosphere, not having any oxygen left to breath would seem to be the paramount concern.

Not so in the world of SGU.  Throughout the show, their greatest concern was...

The build up of CO2.

Now, this can be a legitimate concern.  If you're in an enclosed area where the air in the room is all you've got, you will eventually have more CO2 than oxygen.  At which point, yeah, you're gonna die. Not from the CO2, necessarly, but from the lack of oxygen.  It takes a bit of twisted logic, but sure, you could say that, at this point, a build up of CO2 can be deadly.

That's not, however, the scenerio on SGU.  Here, the ship is actually leaking air.  There wouldn't be a build up of CO2 because the CO2 would be draining along with the oxygen and other gases in their air.  CO2 couldn't have built up to dangerous levels.

But in the post AGW world, CO2 surmounts lack of oxygen in deadliness.  It seems that, just as AGW alarmists tell us that increased CO2 will only increase the growth of things we don't like (like weeds) but kill the things we want (like food plants), apparently a space ship leaking air will only leak the air they want (oxygen) and leave behind the air they don't want (CO2).

Well, since both theories are firmly routed in fantasy, I guess it can work. :-P