Saturday, September 29, 2007

I'll take Potpurri for 800 Alex

While the ADDers, preteens, other gamers, and people who simply don't know any better are drowning in the saliva of their own nervous breakdowns over Halo 3, I'm starting to get pretty excited about Unreal Tournament 3. Its the Cadillac of FPS and the latest instalment is raising my blood pressure because the editor is being ported to MAC finally so I can make a U of S map or perhaps virtually kill people from all over the globe in a rendered version of Saskatoon's Broadway Ave.

Sunday Suz and I will be making perhaps our last hike of the year as snow has been our third wheel last two outings. I've posted most of this years trips on another blog which is mostly finished, I'll drop the URL when its more done. We're hoping to tackle the Wasootch Ridge as long as the snow doesn't impede us. We're not ones to cower from snow but its actually pretty dangerous unless you have crampons. I'm excited about taking an avalanche course in November so I can prowl the backcountry in safety.

Big news out in Calgary is the Royalty Review Board's conclusion that oil & gas royalties should be hiked by 20%. Its looking like the province will adopt their findings which is proving to be a thorny issue for Encana which is threatening to pull a couple billion in investment next year. There is of course no correct percentage. Instead it seems that the government wants to get as much as it can without disrupting too much economic activity. With such loose parameters you can imagine that all players are struggling to construct logical arguments supporting some percentage or another. In fact there are no logical arguments on either side. Considering that the oil isn't going anywhere if Encana doesn't want to suck it out, I wouldn't be too worried about their threats. Incidentally, the province experienced the same gloom from the industry back in the 1950s and again in the 70s when the royalty was introduced and later hiked.
Their childish threats though are unfortunately easy for me to forgive what with Encana building this cool half "u" shaped skyscraper downtown. Its going to be 800 feet tall and will be the tallest outside Toronto. Its no Burj Dubai but its pretty cool.

Driving through Calgary tonight on our way to see Superbad I found myself praying to Turnicus Lefticon, Roman God of Opportunity.

My endeavours in the world of haute finance (Suz is brilliant!) have been much muted of late. Summers' volatility has made me rather gun shy but perhaps when the sun vacates in the long winter months, I will feel a greater urge to sit in front of my computer screen for an extra hour a day.

From my last post, you might be able to guess that I spent an entire Friday night on Youtube watching all the bizarre clips from the 1970s Sesame Street I grew up on. Strange animated odes to numbers like some sort of Pythagorean Renaissance, involved vignettes about the letter W. The whole show struck my adult brain as an effective OCD factory. I was also left wondering if I was part of some sort of experimental generation? And was the experiment a success?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

no expiry date on foolishness

Brrr... it is chilly

The Times, February 24, 1895
"Geologists Think the World May Be Frozen Up Again" Fears of a "second glacial period" brought on by increases in northern glaciers and the severity of Scandinavia's climate.

New York Times, October 7, 1912
"Prof. Schmidt Warns Us of an Encroaching Ice Age"

Los Angeles Times, June 28, 1923
"The possibility of another Ice Age already having started ... is admitted by men of first rank in the scientific world, men specially qualified to speak."

Chicago Tribune, August 9, 1923
"Scientist says Arctic ice will wipe out Canada."

Time Magazine, September 10, 1923
"The discoveries of changes in the sun's heat and the southward advance of glaciers in recent years have given rise to conjectures of the possible advent of a new ice age."

New York Times, September 18, 1924
"MacMillan Reports Signs of New Ice Age"

Mmmm - nice and sunny...

New York Times, March 27, 1933
"America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776; Temperature Line Records a 25-Year Rise"

Time Magazine, January 2, 1939
"Gaffers who claim that winters were harder when they were boys are quite right.... weather men have no doubt that the world at least for the time being is growing warmer."

Time Magazine, 1951
Noted that permafrost in Russia was receding northward at 100 yards per year.

New York Times, 1952
Reported global warming studies citing the "trump card" as melting glaciers. All the great ice sheets stated to be in retreat.

U.S. News and World Report, January 18, 1954
"[W]inters are getting milder, summers drier. Glaciers are receding, deserts growing."

Oops, getting nippy again...

Time Magazine, June 24, 1974
"Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age."

Christian Science Monitor, August 27, 1974
"Warning: Earth's Climate is Changing Faster than Even Experts Expect"
Reported that "glaciers have begun to advance"; "growing seasons in England and Scandinavia are getting shorter"; and "the North Atlantic is cooling down about as fast as an ocean can cool".

Science News, March 1, 1975
"The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed, and we are unlikely to quickly regain the 'very extraordinary period of warmth' that preceded it."

Newsweek, April 28, 1975
"The Cooling World"
"There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now."

International Wildlife, July-August, 1975
"But the sense of the discoveries is that there is no reason why the ice age should not start in earnest in our lifetime."

New York Times, May 21, 1975
"Scientists Ponder Why World's Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to Be Inevitable"

Oh my god, we are, like, so totally fucked...

Earth in the Balance, Al Gore, 1992
"About 10 million residents of Bangladesh will lose their homes and means of sustenance because of the rising sea level due to global warming, in the next few decades."

Time Magazine, April 19, 2001
"[S]cientists no longer doubt that global warming is happening, and almost nobody questions the fact that humans are at least partly responsible."

New York Times, December 27, 2005
"Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming"

The Daily Telegraph, February 2, 2006
"Billions will die, says Lovelock, who tells us that he is not usually a gloomy type. Human civilization will be reduced to a 'broken rabble ruled by brutal warlords,' and the plague-ridden remainder of the species will flee the cracked and broken earth to the Arctic, the last temperate spot where a few breeding couples will survive."

from http://daveslife.instantspot .com/blog/index.cfm/2007/2/14 /The-Earth-is-Flat-Humans-Are -Heating-Up-the-Earth-and -other-science

with thanks to Vin

Sunday, August 19, 2007

ha ling

Suz and I made a questy ascent of Ha Ling peak this weekend. A mostly steep and tedius climb up to 7,900ft. The reward was worth it as the final summit push follows the edge of a razor with several thousand feet on each side. Had a bit of vertigo for myself though Suz found a way to lean backwards over the precipice to photograph her head suspended over the bow valley thousands of feet down.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Return from the Beyond part 1

Having returned from starbase 12 back to the city, I've noticed a few things which probably don't deserve comment, but thats what the internet is for isn't it?

1) First, I've officially substituted "global warming" with "global warning." So now I'm on a mission to "create awareness" or rather satisfy to myself that I'm doing something productive when I'm really doing nothing at all.

2)Im sure my rag-tag regulars could hardly care about Barry Bonds chasing Hank Aaron's home run record. I have a guilty pleasure for sports (they are the original reality tv dramas.) The bruhaha over Bonds inevitable breaking of this very old record is his suspected steroid use. What I find so odd is that steroids help build muscles. I'm not sure how that helps you to hit a 100mph baseball. If hitting 735 home runs was a function of how strong you are then why didn't the millions of guys who are way stronger than Bonds join the major leagues and do likewise? Or conversely, look at a picture of Aaron, he's athletic but not more than anyone you could find in the street, his lack of muscles or performance enhancing drugs was hardly a hindrance as he held the home run record for 3o-some odd years. Something doesn't add up in the logic of the prevailing attitude as usual. Whenever you here the phrase "performance enhancing substance," be sure to substitute it for "muscle enhancing substance." I for one will be cheering for Bonds.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Earth Day

Yesterday was Earth Day so I guess I would be remiss if I didn't inject my usual contrarian opinion to this manufactured day.

1) To the right is the sober voice of reason in the face of the braying Suzukis. Curiously, supply estimates are increasing faster than production which is the exact opposite to the alarmist warnings of the 60s, 70s 80s and 90s. I find it funny that Suzuki doesn't talk about oil running out anymore. I also find it funny whenever I hear the term "vested interest" in reference to oil politics. David Suzuki makes a living predicting doom and chastising behaviors. Doesn't he have a vested interest? Seems like a good reason to ignore anything that comes out of his mouth frankly.

2) Also for your consideration is a graph of inflation adjusted oil prices. As you can see, except for that OPEC blip in the 70s, the price of oil has remained remarkably stable. This in spite of the popular mythology to the contrary.

3) In other words everything you hear is probably wrong.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Dark Have Been My Dreams of Late.

What makes this picture so extraordinary is that my left arm is clearly sticking out at an angle that has otherwise been foreign to it.
I actually enjoyed walking this weekend and my shoulder seems to be slowly recovering, simultaneously gaining strength and flexibility.
Curiously, the skin had shrunk around my previously immobile shoulder and now that the joint is unlocking, the skin under my armpit has split like John Banner's shirt.

Physio/rehab is daily and difficult but my spirits are higher than they've been for nearly a year.

Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Climatology's Wrong Side of the Tracks

1) Speaking of ice cores, here's a tidy little diagram showing the correlation between orbital eccentricity and macro temperature cycles. Its not hard for me to imagine that the "constructive and destructive interference" of the various cycles of precession,obliquity and eccentricity have the ability to present the earth with drastic and unexpected(for now) climate trends.

2) Below is a fine correlation between cosmic radiation and cloud formation. This is the work of Henrik Svensmark .
His work is interesting but unbiased assessment of it is nearly impossible to find since it runs counter to the prevailing winds of climate change. His experiments show how cosmic radiation contributes to cloud formation which obviously effects insolation/insulation. He also noticed from existing data sets that recent cosmic radiation and temperature were related.

3) Some other interesting counter-trend science involves solar dust in the atmosphere which also creates powerful greenhouse effects.

"The most recent observations in frame of the DUST experiment on board the Ulysses spacecraft have shown that stardust level inside of the solar system was trebled during the recent solar maximum (Landgraf et al., 2003. "..."It is possible that the periodic increase of stardust in the solar system will influence the amount of extraterrestrial material that rains down to the Earth and consequently down to the Earth's atmosphere and may affect climate through alteration of atmospheric transparency and albedo. "

4) And just in case one is tempted to bestow esteem on the scientific credentials of anyone, here's a cheap pot-shot at the acme of institutions. Its funny to me how absurd this comment is and yet how little has changed in scientific discourse:

[The objective of geology is] "to confirm the evidences of natural religion; and to show that the facts developed by it are consistent with the accounts of the creation and deluge recorded in the Mosaic writings."
-- William Buckland,
Oxford Professor of Mineralogy and Geology
in The Connection of Geology with Religion Explained (1820)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ethanol Et thetera

1) I've seen more and more media attention paid to ethanol these days. There are some PSAs floating through the 500 channel universe drawing attention to Harper's promise to have 5% ethanol fuel content by some date. Anyway, for those who don't know but suspected it all along, it takes more energy to produce ethanol than is given off by burning it. I suppose to a Saskatchewan born and bred tumbleweed like me who grew up listening to farmers complain about input costs for years, it doesn't really surprise me that it isn't efficient to drag tractors across the earth planting, fertilizing, pestasizing,harvesting and processing corn to the point that someone can burn it in their car.
As energy becomes less an economic issue, and more of a political issue, I suspect that the media will eventually wade through the many studies and the many competing interests. When this happens, its always useful to be armed with the facts. See the definitive study by Cornell Professor of ecology and agriculture here.

It might make you wonder why anyone bothers producing ethanol. Apart from those getting juicy government subsidies.

2) I'd like to see a movie that takes place over a weekend shooting of one of those bad local furniture store ads. Wes Anderson get on this please, I'll be home all week if you need to brainstorm

3) The United Nations released a huge study this week. It contains doom and gloom predictions of the earth's climate in the future. It was duly read and reported by every major news outlet. I'm not sure why considering that everyone knows that we can't predict the weather 4 days from now never mind 40 years! Compared to global climate, the hockey game between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils is a much simpler problem to predict yet no one has figured out how to do that yet. I predicted that NY would win today which incidentally they did though my successful prediction should not be confused with understanding that would allow me to predict other games.
I really don't know what value this report is except to frighten people since its predictions are no better than arbitrary. And if that's the case, it should have been written by science fiction writers rather than scientists.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

neck catheters and other drugs

Well, I return from the hospital without need of a lawyer which is the best one can hope for I think. I declined to include a disgusting photo of the neck catheter that blocked signals from my arm to my brain. After blocking the nerves, they scooped out the blocking tissue surrounding my shoulder joint. Dr. Lo said that in his experience, he's never scooped out that much. I hate being connected to other people's superlatives. Anyway, they sewed me back up and after a few days gave my nerve endings back to me but started me on oxycodone or "poor man's heroin" as its known on the street. Its apparently the number one stolen drug from pharmacies. I was on it for 7 days straight until I so desparately needed a bowel movement and a moment of normalcy that I finally kicked. Heavy physiotherapy now stands between me and whatever chance that the surgery worked.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Keeping it Simple

It is always uplifting to be so vigorously cross-examined, so I must first be grateful to have a most worthy adversary in Mr. Rainswept! It reminds me that intellectual vigor still exists in this often shallow world. It was not my intention to debate the merits or demerits of the ACCA but rather to point out that the Sierra Club presented it in the same shallow and perhaps misleading terms so common to its governmental foes. If my readers will indulge me, I shall endeavour to present a similarly cracked-lens example:

imaginary news release:
"It is a gross waste of public funds to give an 8 billion dollar tax break to the wealthiest Canadians"

Is this statement true? Much like the Sierra Club release, this is sort of true. 8 billion dollars is the amount that Canadians poured into their mutual funds this year. For the tax illiterate, every dollar you put into a mutual fund is subtracted from your taxable income. Additionally, the wealthiest Canadians spend the most on mutual funds. It is also true that mutual funds are how most people save for retirement. This money though becomes taxable when it is drawn upon making it essentially a tax deferral or as rainswept calls it, "an effective loan." It is useful though to examine what happens to this money as a form of opportunity cost to the public purse. It is true, because of the tax deferral, there is less money in the public purse, but this money gets multiplied when it is saved. This happens when the bank loans this money out, jobs get created when this money buys IPOs (initial public offerings) or other equity derivatives. Some of that money even may end up back in the public treasury if the mutual fund portfolio contains federal bonds. The point is that money is not destroyed, it is spread throughout the economy creating jobs and generating new taxes. Mutual funds are not as simple as a tax break for the rich.
Now back to the ACCA. One may think that my example is a defense of the ACCA since I'm clearly implying that tax deferred monies are buying equipment that creates manufacturing jobs, jobs for operators, mechanics, laborers, service jobs, support jobs and all the other spin offs that ultimately and eventually contribute back to the common good through tax revenue. It seems as though I could be arguing that "a tax break to big oil" is a lopsided way of saying job and wealth creation for tradespeople and others taxpayers who little resemble Armani suit wearing oil barons.
My point is this: the opposition to the ACCA is only logically grounded in the environment, not in economics. I think I have shown that the economic ramifications are not so simple. Taken on the whole, the entire economy, not just a corporate bottom line benefits from wealth creation. On the other hand, the environmental argument is much more simple.

Over the last 15 years, I have been to nearly every square foot of Alberta. I have supervised the planting of nearly 30 million trees from the US border to the tar sands. I have worked on oil and gas land reclamation (returning lands to their original condition) and road decommissioning. For over 4 years I have performed contracts for the government auditing forest management areas to ensure that government standards are being met. As opposed to the Sierra Club, I'm the guy who determines whether correct forest practices are being met and at the stroke of my pen, I can force a company to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. I've worked oil and gas initial survey so I've seen land before oil activity and after. My knowledge and expertise of the Alberta environment is unique and thorough and grounded with real experience not ideals. The benefit of this experience is a good understanding of the balance between resource extraction and environmental stewardship, both of which are in the common good.

My direct experience with the scale of destruction in some of the most beautiful places on earth has been profound. But equally profound is my experience with the regeneration of nature.

I have flown over natural forest fires that left a scorched earth hundreds of miles across. I've seen a pristine earth, maggot-ridden with the reeking stench of oil wells. I've seen majestic forests where once was man's greedy thirst for oil, trees and ore. Come to think of it, the environmental question is not that simple either.

The question then becomes: how can we extract resources and create power in a responsible way? To address this, the Alberta government showed some rare initiative by announcing a CO2 pipeline that will pump CO2 from the oilsands to underground storage in the Pembina field. One hopes that this infrastructure will pave the way for CO2 capture and storage from the biggest carbon emitter in Alberta, the coal-fired electricity plants that service Calgary and Edmonton. Curiously, the Pembina Institute, the leading environmental group in Alberta, slammed the proposal arguing that it perpetuated the dependence on fossil fuels. Do they want Canada to just walk away from trillions of dollars of infrastructure investment? Clearly this is just not on. Solutions have to slowly build concurrently with oil infrastructure before they replace it. Creating and supporting solutions requires intelligent dialogue between government, industry and the public. It is unfortunate for the common good that, in the main, those who claim to speak for the environment have squandered any credibility with rhetoric dominated with hyperbole and fantasy.
The most interesting solutions, to no surprise, come from industry. VRB Power Systems based in Vancouver is a new start-up company that has patented the vanadium redox storage battery that acts as an intermediary power storage device that regulates the peaks and dips of most renewable energy devices like wind and solar. This power storage leaves the smallest "footprint" since it doesn't use noxious chemicals and it eliminates the inefficiencies that have stalled wide scale renewable generation. Their devices are currently being tested with early success on wind farms on three continents. I invested in this company and hope to prove that profitability need not be at odds with the common good.
I might control my smugness when I mention that the ACCA may have contributed to my earnings while I was in the oil and gas industry which allowed me to invest in VRB which is paving the way for sustainable energy generation. If you want to get to the bottom of things, follow the money.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sierra Club bathes in Conservative afterbirth

I observed with glee the Supreme Court of Canada striking down our old "terrorism" law concerning the ability of the government to hold suspects without charges. Stephen Harper was further ticked off when parliament didn't play ball with the security rhetoric. I sigh with relief that my beloved Canada found the wisdom to not fall into the traps of our southern neighbors. Of course we were subjected to Harper's false dichotomy presented to the media scrum that followed the form " the opposition chose to play politics rather than secure Canada."
I find this so distasteful considering that the terror attacks in Canada this century have really been limited to Quebecers that got the wrong idea. It amuses me that considering how much more likely you are in Canada to be murdered rather than be subject of an act of terrorism, the Harper government doesn't offer the same logic regarding murder. Nobody would suggest that in order to prevent and catch murderers we need to do away with habeas corpus. Yet this same logic is applied to the near phantom threat of terrorism.

The Sierra Club, an environmental group that never fails to amuse me with their ignorance, provided me with a hearty laugh this week. They bent the ears of the equally ignorant media long enough to get headlines across the country drawing attention to their last cause: Eliminating the tax break for oilsands development here in Alberta. The tax break was put in place when oil was $25 a barrel and the oilsands were in their infancy. Since oil now hovers around $60, they argue that the development incentive is over and now taxpayers are supporting a booming industry that doesn't need the money and is a major source of pollution. It makes a nice soundbite to gas starved Ontarians to cut the 1.5 billion dollar tax break- but wait, there's more. As it turns out, the tax break actually just lets oil company write off all capital depreciation in one year rather than a piece-meal depreciation year by year. In fact, eliminating this "tax break" wouldn't add one cent to the government coffers.

It would seem that when it comes to snowing over a hapless public with half truths and spurious logic, the Sierra Club has learned well from their governmental nemesis.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Shostakovitch's revenge; Mormons v Christians

Well, today is my birthday and my list of presents leaves me much to be grateful for. Suzanne gave me a wonderful edition of several Dashiel Hammett stories. We're also going to the Calgary symphony's presentation of Shostakovitch's symphony no. 10. "The pinnacle of Shostakovitch's’s creative power was his famous 10th Symphony. This fascinating work is exhilarating, reflective, violent and triumphant as it represents Shostakovitch's’s personal victory over the oppressive Stalinist regime." That this concert dovetails with my birthday is most fortunate.

My other present, this one from the universe, was the entry of Mitt Romney into the presidential race. What makes this so great is that he is a Mormon. Of course Mormons are completely repulsive to Baptists, the cornerstone of the American religious right so we can expect their critical examination of his Mormonism to be the irony of the century. Ostensibly, I think the christian right likens the Mormons to Aaron's golden calved brethren. The Mormons, 11 million strong, are the victims of a hilarious con man who was finally charged with fraud. The story of Joseph Smith and his founding of Mormonism reads like a Monty Python sketch with a healthy dose of Mark Twain and the fact that Mormonism is still around, and in such numbers is a mind-numbing confirmation of the stupidity of human kind superseded only by its uglier Christian sister. One who would be tempted to wonder how successful a candidate could possibly be when they profess to believe such silliness, need only witness the success of the Bush regime, whose beliefs are no less preposterous but believed by a majority. In any case, I look forward to the stupid cross-examining the foolish.

For those managing their portfolios, I would put a "sell" on bizarre rhetoric since the surplus in the coming year is sure to drive prices down.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Transvestite Impersonators:The new heroin chic

Of course I rabidly watch Beauty and the Geek, a reality show that pairs age old rival stereotypes together to compete for cash and prizes. Each week the geeks have a social skills challenge and the beauties have some light thinkwork. The show innoculates the viewer with its 'we're all just people on the inside' antibiotics. What is most interesting to me is that one of the beauties pictured here is clearly a transvestite. This is just one example of a growing trend in the beauty zitgeist for transvestite-looking women. I'm not sure when I started noticing this but I sure see more and more women in the media that are being flaunted as good looking but have this tranny vibe lingering about them like axe body spray on a frustrated frat boy. I'll admit, there seems to be no lacking for good looking people on television and movies, but I wonder what this gender-bending trend is all about. Any graduate students in "gender studies" (yes the parenthesis are meant to demean the subject but I could just as easily placed them around "student") please feel to make use of my queery as a germ to grow a graduate thesis from.

Speaking of the transvestite invasion, said poster girl died today. Anna Nicole Smith apparently meant much more to CNN than I. They were broadcasting the story non-stop all afternoon doing their best to convince me I should care. Lest I seem callous, I do care. About 2 things:
1) did she die of a Hoodia overdose?
2) What female transvestite impersonator will take her place?
Internest rumors (that's right Internest rumours,) already suggest that Courtney Love has an investigative committee in place but her intentions to run have yet to be verified. She certainly has the drug abuse down pat and struggles to make money off her dead husband. The similarities are eerie. As eerie as CNN spending all day on a trivial gold digging attention whore when their county's leadership violates its constitution on a daily basis and spirals its ignorant population into the abyss.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Big Rock

When I enjoy a beer, I usually indulge in the Big Rock family of beverages. This brewery is named after the Okatoks glacial erratic, a bazillion tonne rock sitting rather blamelessly on the barren prairie, a few kilometers east of the rockies. And so Suzanne and I decided that we would be remiss if we did not make a humble pilgrimage to the "big rock." I'll have to check with the brewery but I think I get to add "trad" to my name now.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Folly and Hubris: An ill Wind Blows

The Globe and Mail (Toronto's national newspaper) devoted its weekend edition to global climate change declaring that 4 out of 5 Canadians have experienced the effects of climate change. I am constrained to point out that they certainly think they have. To make such a claim is to claim that the weather they experience is not part of the normal tempestuary deviation that is Canadian weather. I rather like that word I just invented: Tempestuary. It sounds like a reeking mud flat that a low tide would reveal in all its rotting-kelp glory.
In any case, the fact that the population now believes in climate change is a familiar disturbance. If they now believe it because they feel they have experienced it, then they are right- but for the wrong reasons. This phenomenon has ceased to amaze me yet its triteness does nothing to assuage my fear of my fellow townsfolk. Being incidentally right for the wrong reasons is perhaps the best I can hope for. But what folly and mischief this has caused in the past.

Did anyone else feel bloated this week? I was feeling positively rotund until I learned the cause. Last week the Chinese successfully shot down a test satellite. That extra gravity of a profound shift in the zero-sum game of military brinkmanship is what we all felt. The entire US military is routed, connected, synchronized and de-ionized by satellites that are now rendered obsolete (truthfully,the US military is de-ionized by their military issue Q-Ray bracelets.) It made for a good laugh when just days later, the US military announced it had successfully shot down a missile. Those in the know will tell you that the missile defense system really doesn't work at all but for p.r. purposes they had to appear to be on top of things. It makes no difference whether any of this is true or not. It just entertains me that the military power seems to be assayed by its high tech marvels. Watch any testosterone sponsored show on the History channel that showcases the latest US hardware and it becomes tragic comedy when you know that this high tech juggernaut is being defeated by stone knives, bearskins, and the cold heart that kills. Indeed this is a graven image.
If military hubris has become America's false god, then I shall melt this golden calf by watching American Idol tonight at 9pm. For I am a jealous God!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I've christened beta blogger with a header of the lovely chinook arch that brought the warm winds of the same name to our fair city this week. The temperature rose about 20 degrees celsius for a good chunk of the week which makes a welcome repite from the deathscape of winter. Most impressive of all is the so-called "chinook arch" which is pictured above. Its rather other-worldly as though the fingertips of spring are peeling back winter as a curious prank. A sheet of clouds hangs from its skyhooks and a tempting sliver arch of blue leers over the mountains grinning. Its enough to make you weep you know not why.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"Buzz" Aldrin: The Real Story

Today is "Buzz" Aldrin's birthday. An appropriate day to tell his sad story of drug abuse and the Apollo astronauts that enabled him. You see, he and Neil used to do rails of 'Tang' off the LEM Module's control panel. While Neil snorted the juice crystals mostly socially, Aldrin's habit quickly swelled to 3 packets a day, earning him the nick-name "Buzz." It was in one of their Tang-fueled frenzies, that they came up with the idea of playing golf on the moon.

Neil: Hey Buzz, there's one more line for you.
Buzz: Thanks Daddy-o!(snooort..snort-snort) Dude! I had a groovy idea. We should like, play Golf! On the Moon! HAHA!
All: laughing and doubling over

For my part, I find this very good ammunition for the moon-hoax cabals. I mean, who would fake a Tang-overdose-fueled-golf-date-on-the-moon? Who?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

America Idol: Applied Epistemology

For my sins I've been watching the auditions for American Idol. Once the auditions are over its just the tedium of beautiful people singing which is of little interest. Unless you come from the Netherlands where all their singers are ugly and disfigured. The auditions are a marvelous peek at the inner workings of the human mind. After a particularly painful rendition of yesterday's discarded pop tunes, the contestant listens with incredulity as the judges tell them how comically awful they are. Then follows the best part of the series which is typified thusly:

Simon: Do me a favor and never sing again.
1)Tone Deaf Chump: (with blood pressure rising) Who the hell do you think you are anyway?
You don't know Sxxt!!
2)TDC: (with an expression that is not dissimilar to one found on an executioner's face just before the blade is lowered) I KNOW I can sing!

Semantically of course, someone who is in the act of singing is a singer, but I don't think this is the cognitive mistake the contestants are making.
The latter of these composites is wonderfully informative if they really mean what they say. "I know I can sing," it reveals a mind that has no formal algorithms for determining true from false, or a singer from an abysmal hack. This mind contains arbitrary information with no system of organization and no apparent interest in pruning the falsehoods and irrelevance from their unruly knowledge trees. In any case, its a sobering thought that these are the people who design banking software, ensure that our drinking water is pure and prevent planes from crashing into one another.

And speaking of music, For all my friends who loath Pachabel's Cannon in D, and for fans of very very clever musicians, daviditron theatre is proud to present Rob Paravonian. Most assured, its worth the every of its five brilliant minutes.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Maria Sharapova

Through the cyber ether, I pass along wishes that Fortuna smiles upon my girl Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open this week. I highly endorse this brilliant commercial that firmly sticks it to the beautiful but talentless.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Health Plans v Scary Think Tanks

I don't know what it is about Ultra right wing think tanks but they really have a penchant for touchy feely names. And so my first reader challenge of the year is to guess which of these logos are health plans and which are think tanks. I regret that I can't link you to any of these because frankly I will not be responsible for giving them link traffic. But if you're in the "right" frame of mind, it can be good for a laugh.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Feminism has never set itself up for ridicule

Well, I didn't quite go two weeks without talking politics. If only I had the willpower of the Duchess of York. Oh Fergie, whilst thou lendeth a humble serf some of thy focused mind? But back to the first course, in anticipation of Bush's new plan for Iraq, I read the Iraq Study Group Report. Its a tidy lil novella with surprises and twists, good character development a nice climax if a trifle unbelievable. One of its gems was the observation that of the thousand plus staffers in the Iraq embassy, only 8 were fluent in Arabic. If I could write great gags like that, I'd call myself a writer!
My prediction for the new policy is that the Tigris river will be choked with the dead of God's most chosen nation. It seems that American battalions will now be in Baghdad ensuring that sectarian interference isn't interfering with bringing militias to justice (and yes, the awkwardness of that sentance was inspired by Mister Bush.) My hunch is that the militias will revel at the chance to engage the American forces in street combat where they will hold a substantial advantage.

I've been reading Dawkins "The God Delusion" this week. Any theists who make it past the first chapter will toss it when confronted by his smarmy but witty tone. I don't think he can help it frankly but the book is filled with tasty nuggets in any case. Referring to how some feminist's refer to god using the pronoun "she" he says:
"But what, after all, is the difference between a non-existent female and a non-existent male? I suppose that in the ditzily unreal intersection of theology and feminism, existence might indeed be a less salient attribute than gender." Amen!

I also noticed the emergence of a new car company whose exclusive product is electric cars. Fittingly, its called Tesla Motors and their signature model is an elite roadster that blows the doors off everything guzzling gas. This CEO plaything will be followed by an $30 000 electric sedan for the rest of us, due out this year. A big Huzzah for Tesla Motors! In fact this product looks so good I may abandon my automotive inspiration: The Smart Camino. A smart-car style el Camino to attract the growing environmentally aware Hispanic demographic. I had already inked a deal with a pair of lovable Spanish midgets to help market the thing. "Eess good for the environment!" The marketing writes itself!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Palindromic Entertainers

I'm not sure which of these entertainers were cloned from which. Certainly it does demonstrate that talent isn't diluted with successive cloning. Its true, I don't have any genetic proof of this experiment, It came to me in a flash while waiting for the curteous and incompetant coffee droid at the coffee shop to pour me a simple cup of said drink

Also included for your perusal is my new favorite latin palindrome:
I will measure off the raft; she, mistress of the area, shall grind.

If there is a better example of an erotic latin palindrome, I'd love to see it!