The reasons for your anti-war protesting do matter

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I’m obviously all for anti-war protesting. I’m also for pro-war protesting if you should feel so inclined. I do admit I don’t fully fall into the “support our troops” camp (assuming I were American). I’m not in favour of sending them negative messaging but I wouldn’t blow smoke up their butts by telling them they’re fighting some noble cause, etc.

But, some people go way too far. This one is interesting too because the social conservatives get credit.

Apparently some church sent protestors to funerals of fallen soldiers with signs like “God hates you.” Now, it’ll take some effort, but follow their logic here:
1. Their god hates gay people
2. Their god hates the US because it harbors gay people
3. Their god is taking vengence on the US, because of #2, by arranging for soldiers to be killed in Iraq
4. Their god feels the above items should be made known to the whole world. Extra credit if the “making known” occurs during the funeral of one of those fallen soldiers. Extra extra credit if you make the family of the fallen soldier cry just that little bit harder.
5. Believing in the items above and taking the actions described is your VIP pass to heaven.

“That there’s some darn good logic, Pa!” No need to sugar-coat this: These people are freaking morons and are just taking up space that could be used by someone who could possibly be considered a decent human being.

Here’s the article: Anti-gay church protests at soldiersí funerals

Who is shocked by oil prices?

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This article on NewsWeek has a valid point about the current media storm about high oil prices: Nominal vs. Real News. People care because of perceptions. Gas prices haven’t risen enough to really affect anyone’s behaviour yet, although that may not be true for long. If people actually thought about what’s going on there’s no real good point they can make for why oil prices should come down again. It’s supply and demand.

The only reason the government cares is because of the perception that the people care. Even though they know it’s pretty ridiculous they have to seem like they’re doing something. I’m sure this is a pretty hard problem at the white house right now. Even though I don’t like Bush I do appreciate his predicament here. I just wish he’d take the good stance instead of the easy/lazy one to patronize the masses.

Christian Extremism

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People here in north america think extremeism is confined to other parts of the world. Well, here it is and it has a nationally broadcast television show: Robertson: U.S. should ‘take out’ Venezuela’s Chavez.

So, we’ve got an apparently “popular” (Although, to be honest I don’t know how popular his TV show is) pastor saying the US should assassinate a world leader. Now, I’m no expert but I do think I remember something about not killing people in that book he professes to like so much.

It really boggles my mind how people can so easily twist their religion towards some goal that’s specifically against their religions teachings. It seems to be especially bad with the “western” monotheistic religions but maybe it has something to do with the monotheistic aspect and normally seems to be related to increasing power/influence for their religion. You don’t hear much about Hindu or Budhist extremism, although I guess that could just be a coincidence. Is there something rooted so deeply in these “Abrahamic” religions that tends a small but reliable number of people towards extremism and violence? I’d love to hear of any theories on the subject.

The Oil Trap: Laziness and Corruption

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I like the way this guy thinks, at least from what I’ve seen of him so far. Fareed Zakaria’s latest NewsWeek article is interesting: How to Escape the Oil Trap.

I agree 100%. I cannot understand, to any extent, except for reasons of corruption or laziness, why the US has not been pushing more for energy efficiency.

There are so many positives from doing it:
- Lots of local jobs
- Less dependence of unsavoury foreign countries
- Better for the environment

And only one “downside” I can see
- Less money coming to politicians from oil companies

But if you assume this is a free country wouldn’t the politicians be able to get the same amount of kickbacks from the new energy producers? Why don’t the current “energy” (ie: oil) companies get on the bandwagon themselves? They could probably even charge more for energy that’s produced “efficiently” in the long run.

Laziness and corruption. Two ultimately powerful forces.

Intelligence

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The Onion has a great article this week on the topic of Intelligent Falling. It a satirical piece about how evangelical scientists refute the current theory of gravity and propose their own called “Intelligent Falling.”

It’s funny, but is it really that far-fetched? Is evolution as far as these people will go in their crusade against science? Will they attempt to refute biology by claiming that there’s a religious aspect to conception? Will they make it illegal to teach archaeology in schools because apparently the earth was only created 6000 years ago?

Globalization or Americanization?

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Interesting article about how globalization doesn’t automatically imply americanization, as it used to. As the worlds only superpower the US obviously wields a lot of power. But, this article describes how the influence may be less than normally believed. I don’t know if I entirely agree but it’s a good discussion. Maybe the difference is that the US has extreme influence over other sovereign countries, but maybe less over their societies.

View From a Baltic Balcony

Health Care: Canada and US

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One thing that’s been striking to me while living in the US is that the health care system is not good. Canadians grow up hearing how much better the US system is, but I really wish all Canadians had to live in the US for a year – then they’d stop whining.

The times I’ve been to the hospital I’ve always had to wait. When I go to the doctor I have to wait. I’m then handed bills for things even though I have health insurance! I’m told I can’t get all my dental work done this year because my insurance ran out after the first visit.

I work for a company that has decent, although not great, health insurance. But I’m sure our health coverage is better than the average American. I can’t imagine what they go through. Then not to mention that 40 millions Americans don’t even have health coverage. They can’t even get help in an emergency. Either that or they’ll be paying for it for the rest of their lives.

One of the most interesting arguments against the Canadian system I’ve heard down here is how expensive it is. This claim is completely false. The US spends over 14% of GDP on health care, whereas Canada spends just over 9% (the average of G7 nations).

I’m not saying the Canadian system doesn’t need improvement but I think we need to identify the real areas of weakness. “Not being like the American system” (as many Canadians would propose) is definitely not a weakness.

Some info:
Health Care Systems: An International Comparison
Health Care in Canada. Part II: Facing New Challenges

Should the US withdraw from Iraq?

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This is a tough question and I don’t think there’s a perfect answer. So far I’ve figured that it would be very destabalizing to leave right now therefore not worth it. It’s a hard line to walk because if the occupation* goes on indeinitely that obviously is bad as well.

I read an interesting article today called Whatís wrong with cutting and running? written by the former head of the NSA under Reagan. While I don’t think I agree with the eventual conclusion, all of his points are totally valid. I like seeing a real discussion of the question “Would things actually be worse if they left?” He takes all of the potential problems being cited for not pulling out and examines each in detail. Good read.

*I’m sure someone will comment that “it’s not an occupation because the government hasn’t kicked them out.” It’s still an occupation while the following are true: a) the majority of the population doesn’t want them there, b) the US forces are holding the population under martial law, and c) the US forces are free to do whatever they want. Go look up the definition of the word.

Focus on your child – by lying to them

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I stumbled across a site called “Focus on your child.” Sounds like a nice enough title, until you actually start reading their site. Especially the parts on homosexuality.

Take a look at these pages:
Bigotry example 1 – Is my child becoming homosexual?
Bigotry example 2 – What Do We Know About Homosexuality?
Bigotry example 3 – The Homosexual Campaign Against Children
Bigotry example 4 – How to Prevent Homosexuality

I was so mad after reading this I sent them an email:
“I can’t believe your website tries to give the impression you’re a credible organization. It took me less than a minute of reading your “literature” on homosexuality to see through your refusal to use logic or common sense. Your quotations of doctors doesn’t hide the fact that both you and they are bigots since all the “evidence” is a sham at best while trying to prove an invalid result.

A few choice examples:
- “Why have pro-homosexual organizations worked so hard to lower the age of consent in country after country? There can be only one answer.” And that answer is? And you reached that conclusion because…?
- “In other words, ‘growing up straight isnít something that happens. It requires good parenting. It requires societal support. And it takes time.’” If this was true, wouldn’t it imply that being homosexual was more natural? Why are you then fighting for people to be unnatural? I don’t think this is true but your argument doesn’t make any sense.
- “There is also the vigorous effort by gays to infiltrate the Boy Scouts in the same way lesbians have done so successfully in the Girl Scouts, where 33 percent of their staff is said to be lesbian.” What are you basing this on? Please provide your data. Using this exact same logic, and improper extrapolation of data, we can imply that there’s a vigorous effort by pedophiles to infiltrate the Catholic Church, and they’ve apparently been very successful at it.

And just to be clear – I’m not homosexual, just a concerned citizen who doesn’t like bigotry, lies and bad logic.”

I encourage you to do the same at their contact page

You mean you have to pay attention to kids?

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Report (from 1996) on the root causes of crime. Interesting that almost all of them end up being based in childhood.

Causes of Crime

I feel like writing a (crappy) script for one of those comedy shows:
“No, come on! Paying attention to kids isn’t what makes them turn out better, it’s choosing the correct V-Chip approved television shows. We have to watch out for nudity. Racy conversations and inference of sex is OK. Skin-tight outfits are OK. Dry humping is OK. Nothing but a bikini is OK. As long as there are no nipples shown, otherwise we’ll have a problem. Violence? I guess that’s OK. I mean, who ever watched guns being used on television thousands of times and then actually thought it was fine to do the same thing? That’s ridiculous, and it’s against the first amendment. Or the third amendment. Anyways, somewhere in the constitution it says that. And then we also have to worry about drugs! There’s a war on drugs going on, remember? But I don’t mind if my kids watch people smoking and drinking on television. Those aren’t drugs. I mean, something that’s bad for you can’t have it’s own commercials, right? — Hey Kids! I’m off to the gym and then Starbucks. Your Mom’s out somewhere. Just stay in front of the television until we get back, OK? Don’t move. Oh, and change the channel if that V thing starts flashing, OK?”

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