Saturday, January 28, 2006

"State of Fear"

A friend lent me Michael Crichton's State of Fear, and I recently finished it. I don't read a lot of current fiction, but had heard interesting things about this volume ahead of time. In particular, Crichton takes to task the environmental movement (which is fully in line with my gut instincts). If you're skeptical about the book without having read it yet, let me quote some of the author's personal conclusions that helped inform his writing:

"We know astonishingly little about every aspect of the environment, from its past history, to its present state, to how to conserve and protect it. In every debate, all sides overstate the extent of existing knowledge and its degree of certainty.

"Before making expensive policy decisions on the basis of climate models, I think it is reasonable to require that those models predict future temperatures accurately for a period of ten years. Twenty would be better.

"I think for anyone to believe in impending resource scarcity, after two hundred years of such false alarms, is kind of weird. I don't know whether such a belief today is best ascribed to ignorance of history, sclerotic dogmatism, unhealthy love of Malthus, or simple pigheadedness, but it is evidently a hardy perennial in human calculation.

"There are many reasons to shift away from fossil fuels, and we will do so in the next century without legislation, financial incentives, carbon-conservation programs, or the interminable yammering of fearmongers. So far as I know, nobody had to ban horse transport in the early twentieth century.

"I conclude that most environmental 'principles' (such as sustainable development or the precautionary principle) have the effect of preserving the economic advantages of the West and thus constitute modern imperialism toward the developing world. It is a nice way of saying, 'We got ours and we don't want you to get yours, because you'll cause too much pollution.'

"I believe people are well intentioned. But I have great respect for the corrosive influence of bias, systematic distortions of thought, the power of rationalization, the guises of self-interest, and the inevitability of unintended consequences.

"Everybody has an agenda. Except me."

There are many more listed, but you get the idea.

The story itself is reasonably interesting. That, along with the well-founded skepticism about all things 'officially' environmental, earns this book a 'should-read' to anyone who wants to intelligently discuss environmentalism.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Election Aftermath

Thoughts on the just-concluded federal election, in no particular order:

(a) I'm glad Stephen Harper won (which might not surprise anyone)
(b) Even though I didn't vote for him (I spoiled my ballot and said I wanted a pro-life candidate)
(c) I would definitely have reconsidered (b) if there were any doubts whether he would make it in. I may be a single-issue voter (when I have a choice), but will seek the best of what's available when it comes down to it.
(d) Kate's post on the 'morning in Canada', sums up the best hopes I have for our new government.
(e) I am very proud that the CPC made a breakthrough in Quebec. I'm not overly pandering to Quebec, or any other area of Canada - but to be shut out from such a large part of the country didn't bode well for the national appeal of the party.
(f) I am more than a little disgusted at Paul Martin, his outrageously negative and empty campaign, and the fact it still garnered him so many votes and seats.
(g) I was planning on going to the Telus centre to celebrate, but backed out at the last minute, intending to catch the results at home. Unfortunately, the main blogs had problems getting information out, and so I effectively waited until much later to find out/discuss the results.
(h) I have more confidence in the current Parliament than the last one, primarily because the Liberals no longer control the books.
(i) Paul Martin redeemed himself, just a little, right at the end of the night by bowing out quickly, instead of dragging it out.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Lorne Green's Wild Kingdom

[Wild Kingdom music in the background, as LG narrates ....]

In the Canadian wilderness, there is a disappearing species, the SoCon. Just short generations ago, there were SoCons wandering Canada from coast to coast, though especially on the plains, if records are proved correct. Unfortunately, current federal government hunting policies have resulted in many fewer being seen in the wild. They exist in specially protected Liberal reserves (though few recognize they are there) - but when they are found in the wild, Federal Liberals have been known to shoot first, ask questions later.
Over the course of this winter election campaign, the shy SoCons have been making a slow comeback, poking their noses playfully onto various blogs, and even asserting their right to exist on the Canadian landscape. Some would like them to be permanently banished to the electoral fringes of Canada.
Stephen Harper has proposed changes that would allow the SoCon's to peacefully co-exist with other Canadians, even off official reserves. His eagerness to make a place for these playful creatures doesn't extend, apparently, too far - as he and his entourage have been known to poach any SoCons who come running too closely to his safari bus, perhaps causing it to veer in a different direction.
Will SoCons ever openly repopulate Canada as they once did? Will they change the electoral landscape through their open influence? We'll keep you posted ... right here ... on the Wild Kingdom.

[cut to Mutual of Omaha commercial]

March for Life message, via

President Calls "March for Life" Participants
Via Telephone
12:40 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Nellie, thank you very much. I appreciate the invitation to speak. I'm calling from Manhattan, Kansas. (Applause.) Sounds like you got some good folks from Kansas there. (Applause.) I want to thank everybody there -- if you're from Kansas, or anywhere else in our country, for your devotion to such a noble cause.
You believe, as I do, that every human life has value, that the strong have a duty to protect the weak, and that the self-evident truths of the Declaration of Independence apply to everyone, not just to those considered healthy or wanted or convenient. These principles call us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, all who are weak and vulnerable, especially unborn children. (Applause.)
We're making good progress in defending these principles, Nellie, and you and I are working together, along with others, to build what I've called a culture of life. One of my first acts as the President was to ban the use of taxpayer money on programs that promote abortion overseas. (Applause.) I want to thank you all for getting that ban on partial-birth abortion to my desk, a bill I was proud to sign -- (applause) -- and a law which we are going to defend -- and are defending -- vigorously in our courts. Because we acted, infants who are born despite an attempted abortion are now protected by law. Thanks to "Laci and Conner's Law," prosecutors can now charge those who harm or kill a pregnant woman with harming or killing her unborn child, as well. (Applause.)
We're vigorously promoting parental notification laws, adoption, teen abstinence, crisis pregnancy programs, and the vital work of our faith-based groups. We're sending a clear message to any woman facing a crisis pregnancy: We love you, we love your child, and we're here to help you.
There's more work to be done. The House has passed a bill to ensure that state parental involvement laws are not circumvented by those who take minors across state lines to have abortions. And the United States Senate needs to pass this bill so I can sign it into law. (Applause.)
We also must respect human life and dignity when advancing medical science, and we're making progress here, as well. Last month, I signed a pro-life bill supporting ethical treatment and research using stem cells from umbilical cord blood. I also renew my call for Congress to ban all forms of human cloning. Because human life is a gift from our Creator and should never be used as a means to an end, we will not sanction the creation of life only to destroy it.
By changing laws we can change our culture. And your persistence and prayers, Nellie, and the folks there with you, are making a real difference. We, of course, seek common ground where possible; we're working to persuade more of our fellow Americans of the rightness of our cause. And this is a cause that appeals to the conscience of our citizens, and is rooted in America's deepest principles -- and history tells us that with such a cause, we will prevail.
Again, Nellie, thank you for letting me come to speak to you. Tell everybody there that I ask for God's blessings on them and their families, and, of course, may God continue to bless our grand country. (Applause.)
END 12:44 P.M. EST

All you pro-choicers out there notice the difference between this and Stephen Harper's public statements? To our great shame, Canada is not (at least NOT YET) going to prohibit abortion. If you want to be the 'one-issue voters' out there that we pro-lifers have consistently been called, by all means, vote against the CPC (just please make sure you're voting for the pro-life Liberal et al. candidate, ok?).

I suggest you get your arguments sharpened up though, because there will be a debate in the next few years (even if you elect Liberals in again).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Post "Meet and Greet" Hello's

I dropped by the Ranchman's Meet and Greet today to, well, meet and greet several Alberta bloggers/commenters. The drinks and food were good and in plentiful amounts. It's very interesting to put a face to a name/blog. Thanks for the conversation to everybody who showed up (well, before the band started playing and it got too loud to talk). Notably present were, Kevin, Richard, Mike, Cory, Aizlynne and Greg, Darcy, 'Huck', Katie, Johnny, as well as a couple of folks who don't have their own blogs.

(apologies, should I have missed anyone - I'm a cheap drunk, and after 2 beer, I'm surprised I remembered this many names).

Thursday, January 19, 2006

"We have seen the wonk, and he is us."

I just thought I'd include the following entry from a blog I frequent, for those of you who know me, but perhaps don't understand my fascination with the blog-world:

"Wonk: someone who obsesses about a within-the-margin-of-error movement in the polls, indeed obsesses about polls; someone who has any idea of what the real issues are in a political campaign; someone with anything intelligent to say about politics; someone who spends their evenings prior to the election reading through all the comments on Andrew Coyne's blog just to see the latest hilarity from Plato's Stepchild.

"In short, we have seen the wonk, and he is us."

Credit goes to Ed, of the Robot Guy blog.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Who's Your Enemy?

Prime Minister Paul Martin seems to believe that this

can be (about one third of the time in Canada) a woman's enemy.

Prime Minister Paul Martin wants you to believe that Mr. Harper is the enemy of "Canadian values" for not agreeing with this argument.

Unfortunately, Mr. Harper and all the other party leaders seem to agree with PM's argument.

I think Canadians can do better for both mother and child than to pit them against each other.

Canada, know what you're choosing. Ask for a better choice than to set mother against child.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Excommunicate Paul Martin, already!!

Grave scandal continues to be caused by a Prime Minister who accepts abortion as a fait accompli, somehow compatible with his 'devout Catholicism'. It's more than time to let PM (and those who would be mislead by his ilk) know that he must choose between a faith of convenience and public adherence (at least not public non-adherence) to the basic moral and religious tenets of the Catholic Faith.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Holiday Recovery

For those wondering what took so long for my recovery to the blogosphere, don't forget that I'm a teacher (and therefore have an, er, extended holiday).

Truth be told, it was great to be busy with life.

Christmas was held quietly at home with just our little family. The boys received plastic light sabers in their stockings (Santa, you devil!) - and have been progressing in their Jedi training marvelously. Yes, I actually do things with them called 'Jedi training', although usually it's tickling them (and they can't laugh), or talking to them about the importance of patience (I hope I'm not confusing them, but I'm trying to include some virtues training as part of the whole deal). Supper was later enjoyed with relatives, although no immediate family.

We hosted my wife's family for about a week, with New Year's Eve in the middle of it. Fun included an afternoon at a wave pool, tobogganing at previously-known 'bloody hill' and/or 'speedy hill'. Hitherto known as 'cow-pie hill'. It's becoming the 'hill-that-changes-its-name-with-each-visit hill'. We did the fancy meal on NY eve, which went well. Sadly, people had to leave - happily, they didn't all do it at once, letting us say our goodbyes over several days.

When the last had left, word came from my family that my grandma was very ill back home in Regina. We sat on the info for one day, and then decided to make the trip to visit her (and others). My grandma is a very sweet person, and it's tough to see her suffer. She's taking it as well as she can, I believe, and my grandpa is standing by her as best he can. They continue to inspire in the twilight of their marriage (63 years yesterday, by the way). It was tough saying goodbye yesterday, as it really feels like this is THE goodbye. But who knows, really? I feel like I've been saying goodbye/appreciating them more and more over the past decade almost, now. It's coming closer to home, though (in case you didn't know, I actually still have all my grandparents, and haven't had somebody really close to me die - ever; I'm set up for a tough time ahead, aren't I?).

Miscellany - my third sister got engaged on the holidays (good on her!). I'm sure brotherly advice will be forthcoming soon enough (to her, not you guys).
I've been reading election information, but not as much as before Christmas (yet); I'm hopeful when I think of the upcoming federal election. Those who really know my politics know that I'm not wed to any particular party (although with the socialists in Ottawa, that possibility may exist some day); but am CPC by default this time around. I was Liberal for awhile shortly before Chretien got in in 1993, but have voted against them for about the last 10 years. To put it mildly, "It's nice to see a plan come together" (in regards to a well-run CPC campaign). While not completely enamoured with Stephen Harper (in particular his waffly-ness on SoCon issues), he's got none of that Chretien slick-ness about him that I've grown to despise in all things Liberal.