Saturday, May 03, 2008

Why are we in Afghanistan?

Why are our loyal soldiers dying in Afghanistan?

Someone ought to ask the question.

I don't know about you, but I was fed some story about "reconstructing" the country, repairing the infrastructure, instilling human rights (especially women's rights), protecting the populace from all those evil, drug-smuggling, woman-abusing warlords. We were hunting down "terrorists", the very same group of people - we were told - who were supporting Osama bin Laden and his crew.

Isn't that why the Canadian military is in there, killing and dying? Isn't that why we are all risking terrorist reprisals here in Canada?

Well, the first problem is that our military spending in Afghanistan is vastly outstripping our "reconstruction" spending. So we know we're destroying rather more than we're building right from the outset.

On the one hand, Canada's reconstruction agency (CIDA) tells us that six million children are now enrolled in school. That sounds like progress, doesn't it? Compared to the 700 000 that were enrolled seven years ago? But this report comes from Afghanistan's Ministry of Education.

However, it has been revealed that, in many cases the police forces in Afghanistan are full of "ghosts", officers who do not exist and whose salaries go in to the hands of local warlords. That being the case, why should we believe the education enrollment figures of the Afghan government?

Is that what we're doing over there? Feeding money to warlords?

Sadly, yes. We're helping one group of drug-smuggling, women-beating warlords triumph over another. There is no reason to believe anything that comes out of this corrupt government. Not the education figures, not the military figures, not the drug-production figures. None of it is trustworthy.

And where does that leave us?

Where does that leave our soldiers?

People are dying. They should at least know why. They offered their lives for our protection. We owe them as much.

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Friday, May 02, 2008

Letters from Hell

Here's a Letter from Hell.

It's a creepy indoctrination video telling Christian children to indoctrinate their friends in to Christianity to help them avoid the "Lake of Fire". The premise is that one boy failed to indoctrinate his friend and that friend is writing a Letter from Hell about how he's burning in a lake of fire because he didn't believe in Jesus.

I guess it's a special kind of sulfurous lake of fire, one that produces heat that doesn't burn pens, but I digress.

This kind of thing really does work. I've seen it work. At the request of a friend (to see his "play") I went to an indoctrination session once at a Pentecostal church. We were trying not to laugh, but those around us were fully absorbed by the skits involving people accepting/not accepting Jesus and going to heaven/burning in Hell. At least a hundred people, at the end of the "play", went down and "accepted Jesus in their hearts".

Fear has replaced reason. You see, there's no reason to believe any of this. No one has ever reported back from heaven or hell. There has never been a single piece of evidence for any kind of existence after death. The only evidence for any of this at all is a 2000 year old book of questionable moral value and little technical accuracy.

But reason doesn't matter. These people don't want to apply to your logical centre. They want to outflank your thinking faculties and appeal directly to your lower brain. If they can use enough frightening imagery and trigger a primal reaction, they can get you to ignore the fact that they're talking nonsense.

Like I said, it really does work. I've seen adults and teenagers running down the stairs to the front of the church and crying as they accept Jesus.

The video, after a description of eternal burning punishment for the crime of not having been told about Jesus by your friend, encourages the viewer to put aside all other parts of his life and evangelize. The viewer should be converting his coworkers from their religions (good idea!) and converting little children too (they have weaker reasoning faculties and can be more easily frightened).

I'm sorry, god-bots, but I won't be accepting your saviour today. I've overcome that fear and I use some of my time every day to improve the world by spreading reason and logic with the goal of improving the one thing we all agree is real - the world we live in.

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Free Trade is Double Plus Good

Stronach says, "Up yours!" to workers.

Didn't we realize a long, long time ago that this was where free trade was taking us? Is it finally, finally becoming obvious enough?

It's really simple. In the old days we had these things called "tariffs". Tariffs existed to protect local industries from unfair foreign competition. If country A respected human rights, respected workers' rights, gave health care to all its citizens and educated all of its citizens, why should its citizens have to compete directly with country B where the standard of living was poverty, there was no health care or public education and workers had no rights?

But no, we had to have free trade. "It will bring us cheaper goods and a higher standard of living", they told us. 'They', of course, are the people who moved their manufacturing to poorer countries and increased their profits. 'They', of course, are the people who shut down local factories and told laid off workers to retrain.

Now Stronach tells us:
The average industrial wage in the United States is about $22 (U.S.) to $23 an hour, but workers at the auto makers are paid in excess of $50

That's right. Those were good-paying jobs. Now because of "growing worries about the competitiveness of the auto industry in Canada", those good-paying jobs have to be turned in to poorer paying jobs. "Competitiveness" can only refer to the damage being caused by free trade.

Look, there's only one way this can go. If Canadian workers are forced to be "competitive" with countries that allow their workers to be beaten up while offering those workers no health care and their children a lousy public education, then we are in a race to the bottom.

We should never be competing with workers in those countries. Not only are we dragging ourselves down, we are also rewarding those who treat their workers so poorly.

But that's not Stronach's problem:
"I guess I get paid to worry," he told shareholders.

Yes, he gets paid to worry. He doesn't worry about the lives he's ruining. He doesn't worry about the workers that he and his free-trading associates just condemned to half pay. He doesn't worry about human and workers' rights in other countries.

He's worried about the share price, because that's all that matters to him.

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There's no Indigo in the Rainbow

There's something I have to get off my chest. It's been bugging me since 1988 or so when it came up as a trivia question in grade 8.

There is no indigo in the rainbow.

The grade 8 trivia question, with a Twix bar on the line, was: "How many colours are present in a rainbow?"

If we were to discuss the number of colours present in the rainbow, we would have to set some kind of standard for how precisely we want to define a colour. In reality, we have to admit that for all practical purposes there are an infinite number of colours present in the rainbow.

So we need to set a limit.

We could argue that the limit is "primary colours", in which case we have 3: red; yellow; blue. All other colours can be defined by mixing these three together. Your monitor, of course, use three different colours: red; green; blue.

Now we could also argue that we ought to count secondary colours as there are enough obvious colour changes for the human eye to pick up. In that case we have: red; orange; yellow; green; blue; purple (sometime called violet for no really good reason).

Fine. That makes six colours and I could completely understand that.

But SEVEN colours? What would the seventh be?


Indigo? Are you on crack? Indigo is just a colour defined halfway between purple and blue. Why on earth would you count that?

If you're going to argue that purply-blue (indigo) counts, then I would have to argue that bluey-green (teal?) should count. How about reddy-orange (peach?) or yellowy-green (puke green).

Indigo is a crock. Indigo is a scam. Drop it from the official colours of the rainbow forever and never look back.

All I'm saying is that someone owes me a Twix bar with two decades of interest.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Earth is Flat

The Earth is flat and I can prove it as follows:

1. The Colonial British and Spanish believed the Earth was spherical. On the basis of this "Spherical-Earth" theory, they sent explorers "around" the world. These explorers were responsible for the subjugation and destruction of any number of Native American cultures. Spherical-Earth Theory is therefore a necessary condition for the cruel treatment and destruction of numerous cultures.

2. People believed for a long period of time that the Earth was flat, much longer than people have believed it is spherical.

3. Ferdinand Magellan said, "The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church." This demonstrates not only the discriminatingly anti-religious tone of S-E theorists but also the absurd ignorance on which Spherical-Earth theory is based. The only thing evidenced by this shadow is that the Earth is circular, not that it is spherical.

4. Countless historians have noted that Hitler and Stalin both used Mercator projection maps to plan their conquests. This enabled them to use "Great Circle" routes for their planes when sending them on bombing runs. Without Spherical-Earth Theory, these Great Circle routes would not exist!

5. If the Earth were spherical, we would have to presuppose some type of force that keeps the people on the other side from falling off. And even if this force existed, television programs from the "other side" should show up upside down on our television sets!

6. S-E theorists tell us they have pictures from "outer space". Never mind the impossibility of this "orbit" thing they talk about (don't get me started on the Theory of Gravity and its use in the manufacture of ballistic missiles!), those surely faked "satellite" pictures show that the Earth is circular, not spherical. They're as bad as Magellan!

7. Do you feel like you're moving? S-E theorists posit that, except for people at the "poles", along the "axis" of the Earth, the rest of are spinning around at speeds of up to 1667 kilometers per hour. I certainly don't feel like I'm moving that fast, do you?

No, these Spherical Earth theorists are a menace to our society. It's time we kicked them out of our schools and taught our children the proper, true and noble belief of the Flat Earth.

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