Sunday, July 24, 2005

One theory of enhanced global warming.

I'm quite skeptical when it comes to EGW. I am very anti-Kyoto, not just because it's an expensive cosmetic environmental treaty that will achieve (next to) nothing (even if the biggest CO2 emitters were to sign on, that is). I'm also anti-Kyoto because the pro-EGW crowd has failed to provide the burden of proof to change the status quo. Their arguments often come down to assertions that this is such a serious issue, we have to do something about it. Whoa, Nelly - don't get ahead of yourself there - first provide the evidence that justifies the action. Assertions followed by scare statements don't cut it for me. I'm a child of the 70's, and still have memories of being scared silly that a new ice age was coming, because that's what the environmental fad of the day was. You could say I've learned from past relationships, and don't plan to get burned again.

I thought I'd provide a few links discussing an alleged link between EGW and solar activity to further the discussion.

You may look here, here, here, here, and here. Note that these articles are a mixture for and against the solat activity link.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Well, I finally did it - I went to see the new Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie. I'm glad I did, too. Not necessarily because I was thoroughly impressed with the quality and faithfulness, but because I would've been unhappy to not have seen a serious attempt at it.

Not to talk it down too much, there were some good images that add to my own impressions from the book(s). The Vogons gave form to what had only been vague outlines in the past. The Magrathea episode was a little better than the book, I thought. Assorted bits and pieces are either good or neutral throughout.

On the other hand, it is still a British movie. I don't mean that it has British actors - I mean that it has the old British way of doing space movies, which to me means not worrying that it doesn't appear believable. I realize that movies are not reality, but sometimes I like to suspend my disbelief to get into it, and I was thoroughly not able to do that with this movie. The movie was dedicated to Douglas Adams - I hope he would have been happy with it. I will continue to hope that a movie tailored (and yet challenging) to my imagination will yet be made in my time.

If you're a fan, you should probably go see it - if not, it's piece-meal approach to the book may leave you in the dark as to what certain things mean. Frankly, I don't think you'd get it. Just my two cents' (or $4.75, it was at the cheap theatre, after all).

Does reason/logic have a role in moral debate?

I ask this question in all seriousness (and admit that I am a little bit in despair over its apparent answer).

In numerous discussions about abortion, it seems that we get to a point at which - very consistently - the pro-choice person admits that my science/biology is basically pretty sound, but that the 'answer' to the abortion debate depends, ultimately on the opinion one has of the value of human life. Obviously, it's portrayed as more nuanced than this - but seems to boil down to whether someone feels like it's worth valuing an early human life.

Does this seem as messed up to you as it does to me?

Consider the great company this opinion shares (I'm going from memory/interpretation - actual quotes would be welcome):
Women are not considered persons under the meaning of the law.
Black people are not legally persons.
Jewish people have no rights.

Maybe I'm just daft (okay, it's certain that I often am - but where in this issue?) - isn't society just repeating itself, again, when it comes to human rights abuses? Some group of people has grown comfortable at the expense of another, and justifies it with the flimsiest of excuses; when confronted with evidence to the contrary, retreats into a very adolescent, "I just want it that way, and don't care what you say."

Partially, it's part of a larger issue - "progressives" like (nay, are required by virtue of their view of humanity) to believe that human nature is improving itself over time - evolving, if you will. Unfortunately, human history doesn't neatly demarcate itself into early periods where men brutally killed each other for no apparent reason, and later periods where men are enlightened and, individually as well as societally, do all they can to nourish and protect human lives. Many of the worst human atrocities are also the most recent - often enough in the most advanced nations (if abortion is included, as I argue it should, then today's most horrific abuses are precisely in the most "civilized").

I don't have a neat way to end this, so bye for now.

Timmm-berrrrr .....

Thanks to my brothers-in-law (different sides of the family), the tree I mentioned not so long ago is now sleeping with the fishes. Good fun was had by all, as I got to chop it up with my chainsaw after the fact (I wasn't quite confident enough that my wedge cut would direct it to the (empty) center of my yard). The tree fell beautifully (apologies to Dogmatix) - and, better yet, thanks to my uncle, all the branches have also already been hauled away to the dump. I was dreading that last part taking 3 months of putting out small bundles for trash pick-up - a huge headache averted!

Now, I just have to take out the stump ....

UPDATE: I've made some progress with the stump, though still a ways to go. I'm updating for a mea culpa: I called my own (older) flesh and blood brother a brother-in-law without even noticing. How do these things happen? Not thinking very deeply, I thought, "brothers from both sides of the family", and thence to what I wrote.

Friday, July 08, 2005

7/7 Insight

Burkean Canuck has a great post (and the comments aren't too shabby either) on London's terrorist attack yesterday. Admittedly, it's on the deep side.

A great editorial in the TorStar can be read here on the incredible response of the British to the terrorist attack.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Listening to women who have been sexually assaulted.

"I,having lived through rape, and also having raised a child 'conceived in rape,' feel personally assualted and insulted every time I hear that abortion should be legal because of rape and incest. I feel that we're being used by pro-abortionists to further the abortion issue, even though we've not been asked to tell our side of the story." From D. Reardon's Victims and Victors

How opportune that I came across Reardon's book so soon after my most recent post on abortion's 'hard cases'. I'll let him speak for himself from the foreword to the book mentioned above:

"Opinion polls show that the vast majority of people accept the 'necessity' of abortion in cases of rape and incest. People who oppose abortion in such cases are generally dismissed as heartless extremists.

"After all, it is very true that women who become pregnant as a result of rape or incest face extremely difficult circumstances that should invite our compassion and support. To many people, the argument that a woman should not have to spend nine months carrying her attacker's child seems like a natural extension of that compassion.

"Sincere empathy for the victims of sexual assault, combined with the widespread confusion, fear, and revulsion associated with rape and incest, made this issue a natural 'hard case' for the proponents of legalized abortion. [....] What began as social acceptance of abortion in a few rare cases necessarily led to social acceptance of abortion in virtually any circumstance. [....]

"All of this is extremely unfortunate because literally all of the evidence regarding this issue is on our [ie. the pro-life] side. It is a little known fact that the vast majority of sexual assault victims do not want abortions. In addition, when sexual assault victims do have abortions, the long term, and even short term, psychological effects are devastating. Most of these women describe the negative effects of abortion on their lives as even more devastating than the sexual assault.

"Sexual assault is actually a contraindication for abortion. A doctor treating a pregnant sexual assault victim should advise against abortion precisely because of the traumatic nature of the pregnancy."

To borrow from an another blogger, compared to these, my voice is irrelevant.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

This chamber is neither sober, nor thoughtful - discuss amongst yourselves.

Apparently, the Senate, an institution 'known' as the the Chamber of a 'sober, second thought', has closed down debate on the SS"M" bill after 2 hours of debate. Oh, those clever Liberals, they sure know how to work the levers of power (all you lefties must be giggling with glee now).

This just in ....

... from Father de Souza's recent column on SSM:

"[W]hy shouldn't [...] marital promises mean what they say? Namely, that the bond of permanence cannot be broken unless the terms of the (civil) marriage contract have themselves been broken, or that the parties mutually agree to break the contract? Why shouldn't marital contracts be at least as strong as, say, the contract to renovate the kitchen, where one party cannot unilaterally break it?

"Such reforms are hardly on the political agenda, but they should have the support of those who argued so passionately that marriage needed to be radically changed to accommodate homosexuals. If that support is not there, it will be clear that the same-sex marriage debate had little to do with marriage, and everything to do with state-sanctioned homosexual sex."

Go read Fr. de Souza's article for yourself.

I can already hear the silence from those on the left for all the truly useful reforms that might have a chance of strengthening marriage. Of course, it's not like SSM was always intended as a step towards abolishing marriage itself, now was it? Or are you already starting to formulate arguments as to why marriage is an irrelevant institution, having already participated in the actions that have undermined its relevance? Just curious.

Excommunicated in Ottawa

Following Kate's lead over at SDA, here's a link to a fine rant by Angry, concerning some Catholic policians(?) in Ottawa who have been denied communion (finally).

UPDATE: Further to Angry's piece ... concerning those Catholic NDP politicians who were effectively excommunicated for voting for SSM. When they ran for the NDP, would they not expect to be kicked from caucus for NOT voting for SSM? So those in political parties can be 'excommunicated' as a reasonable consequence to not toeing the party line, but then get up in arms when their Church does the same thing?

New Gallup Poll

Okay, it's not actually come out yet; but I just participated in it, for the first time ever, I think. It sounds like Gallup (via Leger marketing?) will be publishing a new Canadian political survey by this weekend. Of course, there were other questions in there too, but the political stuff seemed to be the core of it. Why do I feel like I may just have had more influence on Canada's political process than, say, when I actually vote in an election? Hhmmm - why wasn't there a "do you want an election now?" question?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Abortion - dealing from extremes.

Now, it occurred to me after my last 'abortion' post that someone might read what I wrote about my 8 month old in utero baby and say something like, "Why are you using an extreme example, most abortions occur earlier in pregnancy." I have a couple of responses.

First, both pro-choice and pro-life tend to start arguing from extremes (PC invoke rape/incest/life-threatening cases; PL invoke partial-birth abortion, China's coercive abortion policy), rarely from the middle (some legislation, lots of education, etc.), and rarer yet, from the opponent's extreme (PL addressing the 'hard cases', PC openly justifying pb abortion itself and other pseudo-infanticide cases). I'm not like other people - I'm special ;) I don't like to dally on partial birth abortion, because for everybody who is sane in society, it's a slam dunk issue (as soon as they understand what it is). I like to address the hard cases first, mostly because if I really mean it as a pro-lifer, these have got to be addressed as well as the 'easier' ones.

Just a quick preamble: as should be painfully obvious (yet, may not be), the pro-life 'position' is founded on the humanity of the unborn child. Pro-lifers tend not to get too hung up on the metaphysics of 'when personhood begins', as though we're talking about angels and pinheads. Pro-lifers tend to start from science and biology - an individual human being's life begins at the union of the sperm and the ovum. Period. Furthermore, there is no other fundamental criteria to accord any human rights to anyone than the fact that that person is a human being. It's more than a little ironic to me that pro-choicers, for all their "get your rosaries off our ovaries", etc., are the ones to introduce an intentionally ambiguous argument about the beginnings of human personhood, seemingly because the bald scientific facts don't readily support their denial of humanity to the unborn. Other pro-choicers take the legalistic "it's not a person because the law decides who/what a person is", apparently ignoring the rich tradition many societies have had of denying the patently obvious humanity of human beings, simply because it's uncomfortable to do otherwise. Not such a quick preamble, after all.

I said I'd address the 'hard cases', and so I shall.

The mother's life, incest/rape, and fetal deformity.

How often is a woman's life threatened by pregnancy? Actual threats are extremely rare, and doctors should be held to account when they over-emphasize perceived threats (I have a relative who was advised not to get pregnant, but who eventually had two healthy children during reasonably healthy pregnancies). What types of threats do these include? To my understanding, we're probably talking about uterine cancer and/or ectopic pregnancy. Even in Catholic teaching (which is adamantly anti-abortion), there are 'escape hatches' for these two types of cases (though admittedly, not abortion in the common parlance): the 'double effect' doctrine allows for other medical treatment in proportion to the threat incurred (my words) - ie. if a woman's uterus is cancerous, it is ethically justifiable for doctors to treat the cancer, even though the child may die as an unintentional side-effect. The seriousness of the mother's threatened life justifies the intervention that may lead to the child's death. The difference here is that the child's death is not being sought.

Incest/rape - cannot be answered apart from answering the "When should we start protecting human life?" argument. For if it's reasonably determined that unborn human beings are what pro-lifers say they are, then it makes no sense to allow anyone the 'right' to end their lives in answer to the wrongs of another person. In the scale of those innocent to guilty in these cases, the unborn are at the extremely innocent end of the spectrum, and deserve no capital punishment for the sins of another. This type of case is often invoked because it plays on our justifiable sympathy for a woman in a tough situation not of her own doing. A number of questions/comments come to mind for those who argue for abortion in these cases: i) the perpetrator has a strong interest in keeping a child conceived from his act from 'coming to light'; there are cases of underage girls being taken to abortion clinics by their overage guys in order to cover up his misdeeds; ii) it's likely that (at least) some of these cases would get found out (sooner) and dealt with if the 'consequences' weren't so easy to get rid of; iii) how many women involved in these situations have actually been consulted to determine how much they actually want this 'solution'?; iv) anecdotal work by Reardon (forgot the first name) has identified that significant numbers of women who abort after rape regret and feel guilty about their decision, whereas women who give birth after rape often see that child as the one good thing to come out of a miserable situation; v) there are other situations where able-bodied human beings are expected to help another in need, even though it's an imposition on their personal freedom and even safety to do so (sometimes legally, often ethically). Enough for food for thought for now.

Abortion due to fetal 'deformity' cannot be separated from the view that those-already-born-but-handicapped are less than human. We might as well start executing the handicapped and other undesirables to keep our race pure. If you laugh derisively at this, what exactly is the difference?

I expect that I'll post more on this subject as thoughts skitter through my brain, but will leave this to simmer for awhile.

A little something for everyone ...

I'm sure some of you will (justifiably) tut-tut me for including this link, but what the hey. It's been a few years since I first read Things My Girlfriend and I have Argued About. Just kindly overlook those things that you know I don't agree with, while you giggle over the rest. And to my lovely wife, no, I'm not trying to say anything in particular about you.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Back from Lac Ste Anne

Our family went to a Catholic family camp at Lac Ste Anne, Alberta (just west of Edmonton) over the Canada Day long weekend, hence the non-postage. The weather threatened rain briefly (last year it rained heavily every day for the 4 days we were there), but stayed quite warm through the weekend. Sickness continued to haunt our family, some combination of colds and croup, so a lot of time was spent sleeping during the camp - not a bad way to spend a vacation.

The camp itself is pretty hip, by Catholic standards. There were probably 2500 people there, and 60% of them were young people/singles/children. In fact, the one demographic that seemed underrepresented were the elderly (which may be due to the camp-y atmosphere of the whole thing). There were youth streams for 3-5, 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, and 15-17, as well as evening coffee house activities for young adults (I took a picture of the 6-8 year olds, and estimated 100 to 150 in this age range). Each age group had opportunities for orthodox Catholic teaching, personal testimonies, and mounds o' fun. All in all a great way to start the summer vacation and celebrate Canada Day at the same time. This was only our second time at it, but will probably make it a mainstay of our summer. There is tremendous growth potential for this type of activity - we alone know probably a dozen more families who would be interested in this event if they knew more about it. It's also not at all unusual for families of 5-8 children to be found at it either. In fact, I felt like our family was on the low average end of things (we're expecting our fifth child in August).

Anyhoo - an enjoyable weekend for all, and a highly recommended way to see something positive. I haven't seen a web-site for it yet, but it's called the Lac Ste Anne family camp for any doing a search. Hope to see you there!