Category Archives: Rants

An epitaph for humanity

Posted on January 26, 2011 by

Just read a great article entitled “Voyager and the Will to Explore” about the two Voyager missions that are still going strong, lasting far longer than anyone ever imagined they would, and they are sending back information that we would have no other method of obtaining.

But the future of space exploration is in serious jeopardy, and a lot of the problem is the latest recession and subsequent Wall Street bailouts, which emptied government coffers as they bailed out criminal bankers.

When (it isn’t if, it really is when) we get hit by the next asteroid, or if global climate change makes things unbearable and we perish because of that first, our epitaph should read:

“Despite a demonstrated potential for greatness, this species, when it had an opportunity to push forward and explore ways to ensure its long-term survival, gave up power to a few who then gorged at the trough and undermined all by convincing them space exploration was too expensive.”

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Fair Trade

Posted on December 31, 2010 by

fairtrade.pngFair trade is a huge business these days. How huge? Well, this 2007 article in the NY Times titled “Fair Trade in Bloom” puts the world-wide coffee industry at about $2.2 billion for 2006, while this article, Fair Trade Popularity Grows in 2009, puts the world-wide sales of fair trade products at €3.4 billion (about $4.5 billion).

As great as these figures may look on the outside, I am not necessarily a proponent of fair trade any more than I am a proponent of “Certified Organic” in their current forms. I am a huge supporter of the ideology behind what fair trade represents – “concern for the social, economic and environmental well-being of marginalized small producers” and does “not maximize profit at their expense.” However, they have become a commodity to be pandered and marketed, instead of an ideal.

My reasons? I do not agree with the “best price wins/big dog-eat-little dog/WalMartization of life” model that currently exists in our capitalist economy. Currently, multinational corporations control most of the economic activity, and they lobby for a completely “free market” economy without government intervention and regulation, whine about paying local taxes, and race toward the bottom of the price and quality barrel.

Currently, “capitalism” tends to be controlled more and more by less and less very prosperous people, many of whom spend millions trying to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Worse, too many of them did nothing to earn what they own and were simply born into a wealthy family, joining the royals and other undeserving elites in the “Lucky Sperm Club.”

Also, we are not currently paying the true cost of what we buy these days. The true costs would include transportation costs (currently cheap because of subsidized oil and gas) and environmental costs (we currently do not pay anywhere near enough to cover environmental costs associated with production and recycling, and much of the junk we buy ends up untreated in a landfill). This isn’t right, and there will be a day of reckoning.

In my Utopian brain, I see properly implemented capitalism as an incentive to move along one boulevard that is only one road to travel in our journey through life that leads toward more overall prosperity and happiness for everyone. Call me a dreamer.

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Mandatory census change will hurt survey #nbpoli #canpoli

Posted on December 30, 2010 by

telegraphjournal.com – Census change will hurt survey | New Brunswick, Canada.

“The information collected by this form is playing a critical role in mobilizing citizens and organizations to tackle issues in their local communities – bringing philanthropic, voluntary and corporate resources to the table to address some of our communities’ most pressing problems,” the letter said.
Mr. Harper’s Conservatives have ideas that seem to pander to their core supporters they would like to implement. Unfortunately, these ideas are based on ideology that is not backed up by statistics (i.e. increase in prisons while overall crime rate is actually dropping). By removing the mandatory census, it allows them to cast doubt on the statistics they already don’t (can’t?) read…
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CBC Top 10 Miracles of 2010? No miracles, but lots of science, medicine, and chance

Posted on December 27, 2010 by

A friend sent me a link to this article: CBC has a video article article showcasing what they consider to be the greatest miracles of 2010. Wow, I am not sure where to begin with this rather odious piece of journalism, but here goes… Miracles are a funny thing, and not in a way that should make anyone laugh.

Wikipedia defines a miracle as an unexpected event attributed to divine intervention. Sometimes an event is also attributed (in part) to a miracle worker, saint, or religious leader.

While wikipedia is not the final place to go for definitions, it is normally a good place for a general consensus. So, using this basic definition, let’s examine the events surrounding our plane crash survivor. For example, the number one miracle was titled “Sole Survivor”. It is a story about a man who survived a plane crash. He was the only one of 104 passengers and crew to survive. And CBC labelled it a miracle. Do we see the problem here? Where is the divine intervention? I am sure there are 103 families who would disagree that a miracle occurred.

It may seem like semantics, but the word miracle implies divinity and religion, giving undue credence to superstitions and myths that have hindered free thought, blocked scientific advance, and killed countless people in an attempt to remain relevant and force controlling beliefs upon the masses. Religion has followed us since the beginning of our species’ existence, mainly through the indoctrination of our young, when they are the most impressionable. (Here’s an article that explains more about this )

As for the age-old adage about humans not judging events this way, all the dubious, sugar-sweet soothing messages about “god working in mysterious ways” or “it isn’t our place to question him” doesn’t make the foul medicine taste any better or the fertilizer used to grow the story any less offensive.

Our children are permitted to stop believing in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, but are encouraged – and in many cases forced – to profess belief in outdated superstitious myths with no burden of proof by organizations that don’t even pay their fair share of taxes.

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Red Whale Coffee lockout shows poor business ethics

Posted on December 11, 2010 by

I am writing you to express my concern and anger over Phil Brodersen’s decision to close the doors to Red Whale Coffee in Rothesay, NB. My understanding is that Red Whale Coffee was not behind on their lease payments, so I cannot begin to understand what would make Phil Brodersen want to lock their doors, simply because he wanted to place a different tenant in the location?


Red Whale Coffee is a great example of the type of business the KV should be looking to create and attract. Red Whale Coffee is a KV-based small business that offers the highest quality coffee in Southern New Brunswick, as well as a great atmosphere to sit back and enjoy the company of friends. They also employed 15 people in the KV area. I have seen and met many of Southern New Brunswick’s business and government leaders enjoying themselves at Red Whale Coffee, so I am sure there are many others who are disappointed with these actions. An online Facebook page created to support Red Whale Coffee attracted over 100 people in a matter of hours, showing that Red Whale Coffee has some very loyal customers.


To explain how important this business is to the KV area, I live in Saint John but travel to Rothesay specifically to go to Red Whale Coffee. While in the KV for my coffee trips, I also do additional shopping and eating at several other KV-specific businesses – Cochrane’s, On the Vine, Thai Hut, Pomodori’s, and various shops on the main strip are some examples. All this additional shopping is done in the KV because I make special trips to visit Red Whale Coffee. Much of this additional shopping will stop if Red Whale Coffee no longer exists.


I cannot think of a better example of the type of business than Red Whale Coffee that the KV Chamber of Commerce should be supporting and promoting in the KV area, a business that is packed with locals and also attracts people from elsewhere. Instead, Phil Brodersen locked the doors and forced 15 KV employees out of work two weeks before the holidays.


When someone holds a position such as President of a Chamber of Commerce, sometimes they have to think about what is good for the area and not just themselves. Phil Brodersen is a representative of the KV Chamber of Commerce and as such, this does not reflect well on that organization’s business practices.


***
Above letter was sent to the KV Chamber of Commerce and as a Letter to the Editor at the Telegraph Journal

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Does bilingualism help keep Alzheimer’s away?

Posted on November 9, 2010 by

If true, this study is yet another great reason for learning other languages.

Low intelligence or inability to excel in other subjects at school is not indicative of ability to learn a second (or third or fourth) language. Statistically speaking, almost anyone has the capability to learn multiple languages.

Now the province of New Brunswick needs to learn that research by linguists, neural scientists, and educators all show that the earlier the better for learning new languages. Your body actually begins to re-direct those parts of your brain used for language development to other tasks once you hit the teen years. To be successful, immersion needs to start in kindergarten for all NB students in both official languages. Grade 5 is too late!

Link to article

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Do we really need more prisons, or do we want the ‘American Dream’?

Posted on October 26, 2010 by

Crime is down in Canada, and gun-related murders are down as well. This is probably why our prison-loving Prime Minister wants to scrap Statistics Canada’s tools. Who will believe him when he says we need to spend billions on new prisons for putting imaginary criminals away???

We should all be happy for what we have in Canada and fight to keep it this way. Our higher taxes pay for social services, treatments, education, and effective policing programs that actually reduce crime, not just prisons to lock away the bad guys.

As an idea, let’s compare our national murder rate with that of some of our lesser-taxed, Southern neighbour’s states with comparable populations:

2009 Murder Rates


Canada (whole country)

Population:34,000,000

Total Murders: 548 (all types, 179 were gun related)

Stat: 1 murder per 62,000 people

(data: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/10/26/homicide-rate.html)

Notes: Manitoba was the deadliest province in Canada in 2009 for the third year running

United States

California

Population: 36,961,664

Total Murders: 1,972

Stat: 1 murder per 18,700 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)

Florida

Population: 18,537,969

Total Murders: 1,017

Stat: 1 murder per 18,200 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)

New York

Population: 19,541,453

Total Murders: 778

Stat: 1 murder per 25,000 people (quite safe by US standards)

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)

Pennsylvania

Population: 12,604,767

Total Murders: 661

Stat: 1 murders per 19,000 people

(data: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2009)

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Court martial finds Capt. Robert Semrau not guilty of murder in battlefield death

Posted on July 20, 2010 by

From this article: Court martial finds Capt. Robert Semrau not guilty of murder in battlefield death

This one rips at me in many ways… My comments are likely to stir up mixed responses, but that’s OK, healthy debate makes us a stronger society! 🙂

First, it is wrong to shoot an unarmed person, even an enemy in a theatre of war. Anyone who argues against that doesn’t understand that whether or not you “like” the enemy, there are rules we must follow. Fighting an enemy that doesn’t follow the rules doesn’t give us carte blanch to forget the rules. If we fail to follow our own rules, we have absolutely no moral grounds to be there.

Second, while many good soldiers have been killed by injured enemies through the years, I heard nothing about whether he thought the injured man was a threat, which could have justified the shooting.

Third, even an enemy’s life has value to someone. The enemy is fighting for a cause they believe in, whether or not we agree with it (obviously we don’t, or we wouldn’t have troops there fighting them). Regardless, their zeal cannot be considered any less valid a position than that of the crusaders in the past.

Finally, to debunk his defense argument for the shooting, while I am a proponent of euthanasia for terminally ill people, it has to be at their request, not a decision made by another person. If they opened up “mercy killing” to soldiers, it could really get dicey with regards to wounded POWs, etc. Soldiers are not doctors, they can’t unequivocally state who will survive and who won’t.

Overall, I agree with the guilty verdict for disgraceful conduct. However, if the facts in the story are correct (which isn’t a given by any stretch!), shooting an unarmed man who poses no threat to you or your unit regardless of whether it happens in a theatre of war, really does constitute murder. He is an officer who leads troops. This means he must conduct himself to an even higher degree than the men who serve under him and must also set an example for them. This is not an example I would want to be taught to our soldiers.

His decision was not what I would consider to be one that was well thought out nor did it display leadership. It really is difficult to make the right decisions in many situations, particularly when every decision he makes is likely to be judged by “armchair quarterbacks” not at the front nor in the fight, but it has always been that way in a professional army, and that is the task he swore an oath to perform. This guy didn’t swear to flip burgers or push paper, he swore an oath to fight in a war if required, and to follow a very strict set of rules. Those rules were designed over many centuries to try and maintain a level of professionalism, and lives on both sides are on the line.

The consequences of inappropriate actions by our soldiers, particularly those in leadership roles, can be devastating, as this incident has proven. Thankfully, few of us will ever have to face this.

Just as an aside, if he gets any amount of prison time, the first 2 years will be served at the military prison in Edmonton, which is more like 10 years in a civilian prison, then he will be transferred to a regular prison.

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Another Royal Visit to Canada

Posted on July 6, 2010 by

At the end of yet another Royal visit, I ask myself the relevance of any form of monarchy in the modern world – specifically in Canada – and find none.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel no ill will toward the Queen, and applaud the good things some royal family members do for others. But even if it gives some people a “good feeling” to have the monarchy as a connection to our roots or because of some nostalgia they have, does that make it right?

Though it is now only a symbolic position, in today’s world, the fact that royalty and classes remain – and worse still are inherited positions – is anachronistic, irrelevant, and makes a statement about being born into money and/or power without the requirement of doing anything whatsoever to earn it that I just don’t agree with.

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G20 has created a sad time for civil liberties in Canada

Posted on July 3, 2010 by

I agree with Thomas Walkom on his article “The G20 summit’s grim lessons for civil liberties

I understand why Andrew MacIsaac cried. This is a sad state of affairs in what has always been an open, friendly society. It also brings to mind one of my favourite quotes:

“Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both”
— Benjamin Franklin

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