Saturday, August 16, 2008

Finally, Medals!

Congratulations to our first three medalists at the Olympic Games.

Two wrestling women, Carol Huynh for the gold and Tonya Verbeek for the Bronze, as well as a silver for the men's pairs rowing team of Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen.

I feel like I've been holding my breath.

Thank you ladies and gentlemen.

(As an aside, you'll be relieved to know that it's not your fault that it took so long to get a medal. It's actually the fault of socialist lefties.)

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I know how to find Bin Laden

It's actually really obvious. I don't why the American Administration hasn't tried this given its desire to find the guy and its willingness to search, seize and wiretap everyone in sight.

1. Find Bin Laden's alma mater.
2. Locate that institution's alumni association.
3. Hack in to their records. It's guaranteed that they have an up to date phone number and (more importantly) mailing address.

If this proves too tricky, just put a really tiny GPS device on one of the glossy magazines that the university sends out. Track it via satellite. No matter where the guy goes, you know that glossy alumni magazine will find him.

Done. Move on to the next criminal.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Who are the good guys again?

Remember during the breakdown in Yugoslavia when we couldn't figure out who the bad guys were and who the good were?

Milosevic seemed like a pretty bad guy, all things considered. Then there were those rumours of mass graves (that turned out to not exist or only contain equal numbers of fighting age men from both sides). And the Kosovo Liberation Army that Milosevic was fighting turned out to be a CIA front group armed with M16s. Then NATO started bombing and it seemed easy to pick a side. Clearly, we only bomb bad people.

So the whole thing with Ossetia, Georgia and Russia is really confusing as well. Russia? Definitely bad. Totalitarian state pretending to be a democracy. Trying to seize the oil (or was it an oil pipeline) from Georgia. Georgia? They don't seem to be nice either. Once the president of Georgia thought that he had American backing, he began bombing Ossetia, apparently destroying civilian houses and what not.

And the province of Ossetia? Probably just playing one side against the other.

And who are the good guys? Just about nobody, as per usual. Unless, of course, you count the civilians having their houses bombed while wealth, powerful people fight over oil rights. And nobody counts them until they're dead.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Harper and Harris: Trashing Public Institutions

Accidental Deliberations makes a startling point about the Harper government.

In the destruction of "PromArt", a program to promote Canadian artists abroad, the Conservative government used a couple of egregious examples of use of the PromArt money - a leftist journalist they themselves sent to Cuba, a band called "Holy Fuck", etc. etc.

Is this really an accident? Did they simply screw up their talking points as The Galloping Beaver suggests?

I doubt it. I've lived in Ontario my entire life and that includes the Harris years. Let me explain how Conservative governments (even the ones that call themselves "PC") work. They hate public institutions. After all, how can anyone make money off of a public institution except by taking reasonable pay for hard work? They especially hate when public institutions work really well because this makes their hatred for public institutions look truly irrational.

In order to destroy public institutions, as Harris and Eves tried with Ontario's public education system, they first have to make them fail. They have to "create a crisis". They have to antagonize the employees, underfund the infrastructure, take out ads in the paper and on television and do everything they can to vilify the public institution. Harris did exactly that. And when he'd done it, he thought he could tear it down and build private schools everywhere. He failed in the end. Maybe people saw through him. Maybe they didn't. But he failed and we still have an excellent public education system here in Ontario because the Liberals fixed it.

That's what I think Harper and his boys did with PromArt. They're pandering to their social conservative base. They intentionally used the PromArt money to send the crudest and most left wing people they could find to other countries. Then they wave their hands in the air as if this were a Muppet News Flash about Old McDonald's eleven cows escaping. Don't be surprised if you find the PromArt budget included pro-abortion, pro-gay rights singers, artists and journalists as well.

The whole point was to take control, make it ridiculous and then destroy it. I've seen it before. I'll see it again.

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Faith kills quietly too: vaccination

As long as we're on the subject of religion making people do bad things, we may as well hit on the religious right's latest target: the HPV vaccine.

Let's be clear, as we are clear that the invasion of Iraq is about oil, that the attack against the HPV vaccine is not about health. At least it's not about medical health. The reason that right wing outfits like the Canada Family Action Coalition hate the HPV vaccine is because they preach purely abstinence. They don't want you teaching sex education to their children. They don't want you teaching accurate information about condoms and birth control pills - not even to your own kids.

They want abstinence. They want all of humanity to simultaneously deny the instincts that drive our existence. Yes, all 6 billion of us should give up sex unless sanctioned by their church.

To this end, they will circulate false information about the HPV vaccine Gardasil.

Right away you know you have a problem because the author of this site claims that Gardasil contains mercury. It does not. Dr. Shiv Chopra is quoted as making unreferenced claims about other vaccines. Dr. Chopra states that the CDC's statistics are all wrong on the flu but no evidence of this is required in order to the CFAC to quote the doctor.

He also makes the spurious claim that Gardasil "has resulted in more than 3,500 adverse events". This is ridiculous. The data being used only demonstrates that certain events happened after the vaccine was taken. This is meaningless without comparison to a placebo controlled group. If you give a vaccine to tens of thousands of people, some of them are going to have headaches the next day - regardless of the vaccine. You can not assume that the vaccine caused the headaches.

There's also this bit, a red flag for quackology:
More than 4,900 U.S. families have filed lawsuits after their children became autistic within days of getting this shot.

The link between vaccination and autism has been thoroughly debunked. It was a waste of time peddled by numerous quacks intent on soaking the families of autistic children for money. There was never any evidence of any link. All that was ever noted was that the symptoms of autism were discovered by parents at the most common age of vaccination. If you see someone trying to link "mercury in vaccines" with autism, ask that person why the autism rates didn't drop when we stopped using mercury and thimerosal in vaccines.

And when people tell you that devotion to religion makes them happy and does them no harm, show them how religious extremists like these - devoted to unrealistic expectations of human sexual behaviour - are preventing people from being protected from a disease that causes cancer. Religious anti-sexual doctrine is leading these people to cherry-pick the data and misuse statistics in order to promote poor science and ignorance.

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Olympian Cheating

No, this isn't a rant about steroids or doping or whatever they're using this time around. I'm sure they're using it, but I'm talking about something else.

I just watched China vs U.S.A. basketball (which CBC had to show 90 times today, in its entirety). Is there anything to basketball anymore? Apparently a guy carrying the ball can just physically run over any defenceman in his path and it's the defenceman's fault for standing there. As well, travelling is just fine. Go ahead, take three, even four steps. No one will call you. I never liked basketball, with its pointlessly high scores. Now I just think its stupid. Can you even call it cheating if you just get rid of all the rules to turn the game in to a show-off slam dunk festival?

Then I watched water polo. What the ... ? The game seems to be predicated on two facts: the referee can't look under water for fouls; you should do your best to drown your opponents without getting caught. Seriously. The referee's whistle was blowing approximately every three or four seconds for a "minor" foul (drowning an opponent a little) and sending someone off every minute for a "major foul" (really drowning an opponent).

I'd rather watch swimming. At least you can't cheat at that ... well ... except for the drugs. But since I can't see the drugs, it doesn't bother me so much.

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