Monday, February 16, 2015

Kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight

I was never a fan of Bruce Cockburn, but I've always liked this line. 

"kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight"

Cockburn was always political and I appreciate that. I'm an old punk. I do political. I don't do folk.

Cockburn's politics were undeniably left leaning. I'm a centrist but I often find myself leaning - slightly -  left in the current Canadian political environment but there is this thing, by which I cannot abide, be it on the left or the right. i.e. anti-scientific neo-luddism. 

Case in point: Greenpeace and their remarkably adamant, yet ill-informed opposition to GMO technology, specifically Golden Rice. 

Greenpeace makes the standard, boilerplate arguments against the technology: "un tested", "big corporations", "better solutions" ad nausium. 

The "better solutions" argument is the most insidious. What better solutions? Show us where Greenpeace has solved, or started to solve, the tragic problem of Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD). 

Approximately 250,000 to 500,000 malnourished children in the developing world go blind each year from a deficiency of vitamin A, approximately half of whom die within a year of becoming blind. The United Nations Special Session on Children in 2002 set a goal of the elimination of VAD by 2010.

Has Greenpeace made a dent in this, while busily destroying test fields for publicity? How many children have died from VAD during a Greenpeace antiGMO demonstration? How many children have died from VAD while you read this? 


Kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I just saw that, in Canada alone, the ALS ice bucket challenge raised $16.2 million.
I started thinking (surprise) and bouncing a few numbers around in my noodle. I think it's a reasonable guess that it took about 1 litre of potable water per dollar raised. 
That's, conservatively, enough drinking water for 23000 people for a year. 

It's not that ALS isn't a worthy cause. I'm not even talking about the pop-culture moment that was the ice bucket challenge. It's the cost that I'm having trouble reconciling.


Monday, September 29, 2014

ISIS vs ISIL - Subtle Propaganda

As I always search for what people mean beyond the words they choose, I notice a trend in the speakers who prefer ISIL over ISIS (not absolute of course but hear me out)

In Arabic the name is "Al-Dawla Al-Islamiya fi al-Iraq wa al-Sham" and the confusion seems to be a translation issue with al-Sham.
"al-Sham" refers to Damascus, or "Syria", in more modern terms. If they meant the Levant, they would have used "Bilad al-Sham" or "greater Syria", in more modern terms. Either way, though, S is for Syria in modern terms. As I don't claim to speak a word or Arabic, this is the information I've gleaned from reading a few scholarly articles on the matter. I am happy to receive comments from people who speak Arabic. 

But here's the thing with using ISIL and the importance of language in public communication - I've observed this term is more commonly preferred by right-wing commentators. There is hidden ideology here as the Levant would include Israel and suggesting a direct threat to Israel helps beat the drums of war in certain circles.

Evil, by any other name, stinks.


ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State or Daesh - in the big picture, the name is irrelevant. There is no redemption for these animals. Just always pay attention to what your leaders say and what they might actually mean. The most civilized society can always be one good propaganda campaign away from going to hell. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Basically, the problem with Hudak's plan

Eliminating 100000 public sector jobs.

Yeah, fine, everyone likes using the civil service as a political punching bag. So Tim opens his campaign with the 100K kill plan before jumping into the 1M job plan. 

The million job plan has already been well debunked by economists so let's think about the job cuts. 

At first, one may be forgiven for thinking about a massive cut to public service as a great savings. Maybe it is but thing about it like this;

100000 fewer tax payers
100000 fewer consumers
100000 more people competing for jobs you're chasing

good plan, huh?


Friday, March 08, 2013

Garneau vs Harper - The Curriculum Vitae Wars

Just using the convenience of Twitter to encapsulate a few comparisons of Marc Garneau's job-related experience relative to Stephen Harper's. Please let me know if I've left anything out.





















I see a pattern here.




Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Do Canadians Hate Gypsies?


The Jews, The Gypsies, The Freemasons... all have something in common.
Roma refugees: Canadian billboards in Hungary warn of deportation
The Roma
This bullshit is driving me batshit!
My son's Roma great-grandmother escaped Nazi-occupied Romania, with her children. As the family story goes, she "flirted with the guards" at the boarder. I don't even want to speculate as to what "flirting" meant when it came to getting your children past a check-point.

Jason Kenney - Minister of Immigration
Jason Kenney and his boss, Harper, and his boss Levant, seem to think that the long oppressed Roma don't deserve refugee status in Canada... the Roma are living the dream in Europe. Sorry, I'm not so convinced.

What has changed since my son's great oma escaped?

Her courage = My son's existence.

Jason Kenney can just fuck off

What's Wrong with Homeopathy?


Here is a fine example of a Homeopathic "remedy".

By it's own unashamed claim, the amount of "active ingredient" i.e. borax (boric acid) in this product falls in a range of "3X to 30X - 3C to 30C"

What does that Mean Dr VotR?

It means that the concentration of "active ingredient" in this product is somewhere between One part per Million and One part per Novemdecillion. Or between "almost none" and "if it was there, we couldn't measure it anyway".


This product is a sugar pill. All it's homeopathic friends on the shelf next to it are sugar pills. How much are you willing to spend on sugar pills?


I think what a lot of people don’t understand about the homeopathic theory is the astronomical numbers these dilutions represent. This product claims that its concentration of borax is between 3C and 30C. The size of that scale is enormous (One to One Septendecillion). Again, to reiterate, they are openly admitting that they have absolutely no idea how much borax is in this product other than it’s less than 1ppm.

The claim is generally made that, through the process, the water develops a memory of the “active ingredient”. The water memory concept is peculiar considering there are several billion people pooping in the same finite global aquifer daily. I would rather not have my drinking water remembering that. Also, if the water remembers the borax and then the water is evaporated off the sugar solution to leave the sugar tablet behind, then where did the memory go?

One last thought on the profitability of the Homeopathic industry...
I found boric acid for sale online for $3.24/lb. That amount should dissolve nicely into a saturated solution with about 8L of water at room temp. At a 30C dilution, you could turn that amount of boric acid into...

8000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 litres of “medicine”. 

And they say big pharma’s profits are obscene.


UPDATE:

Here's a point I originally missed. Boiron often lists the concentration (dilution) of their ingredients in both "X" and "C" numbers and they are always the same. X is 1 part per 10 and C is 1 part per 100. ie 2X=1C, 6X=3C, 8X=4C, etc.
This again indicates that this company has no idea what it's doing or what it's selling. Why are you buying it?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Just Thinking on Corporate Welfare


I estimate, roughly, that if an individual lived solely on social assistance from ages 18 to 65, he would receive about $330000.00 . Of course, that's not an absolute cost to the system as a good chunk would come back in taxes, but let's just use it as a hallmark.

So, when the government hands out vast sums of money to private enterprises in the guise of "economic development" we can develop a rough standard by which to judge the efficacy of that use of public money. 

For example: The Harper Government (formerly "The Government of Canada") announced a $400 million investment in the venture capital sector (not in manufacturing, research, service or any other direct employer, mind you) to somehow stimulate the economy and create jobs. The announcement offers no indications of how, if ever, success will be judged. 

Let's try this. If a life time on welfare is worth $330K then this $400M investment should, at the very least, provide a lifetime of employment for more than 1200 Canadians. Any less would be an abject failure. As the government never seems to put any mechanism in place to report to us on such success vs failure - it's evil to put such a burden on the free market - we'll never know where our money went.

Don't like my numbers? Over simplified? Fair enough. Compared to no number at all, my back-of-an-envelop musings are infinitely superior, because that's basic math.