Tag Archives: US

Climate Change, Just Climate Change

I probably wasn’t the only one disgusted with the Canadian Minister of Industry Jim Prentice when he referred the to the problem of climate change as “hype”. A mountain of scientific evidence apparently doesn’t amount to a hill of beans when you’ve a bunch of Alberta energy companies breathing down your neck. I also love how he tries to pay lip service to investment in clean technologies. Does he expect the market to take on the uncharted territory renewable energy when they have a sure thing in the tar sands? It wasn’t the market that protected Canadian investments during this recession, and it’s not going to clean up the environment either.

Now I’m not saying I believe all of the “hype” of climate change either. The extinction of the human race? Highly unlikely. But famines, floods, droughts and the Earth looking like hell in general? Certainty. Already happening, in fact. If we don’t do something about it, very bad things are going to happen. And don’t even bring up that climategate or whatever the so-called “skeptics” are calling it. If you’ve worked on any form of geographic data, you understand that those scientists are not trying to falsify anything. Since those e-mails are also 10 years old, they likely have little to no bearing on the research that continues to this day.

But if we are steadfastly refusing to take the debate of climate change outside the realm of ad hominem attacks, consider this. Upon news of the leaked e-mails, the rest of the scientific community regarded it as a non-event, while Saudi Arabian Climate negotiator Mohammed Al-Sabban stated, “It appears from the details of the scandal that there is no relationship whatsoever between human activities and climate change.”

So on one side we have the representative of feudal military dictatorship that considers freedom of the press, women, and religion as an affront to God. On the other side, we have scientists whose job it is to provide us with the technology and foresight to keep our country from looking like said feudal military dictatorship. That’s easy math, if you ask me.

Manic Mondays

It occurred to me that today is the 68th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s funny how for most people today, December 7th is just another day at work. In 1941, and in other points in history, people were fleeing for their lives. As much as I go on and on about war and the importance of history, I have to concede that most of these conflicts are not mine. I was never drafted. I’m not mourning the loss of friends in a Japanese prison camp. Concerns about Communist expansion had pretty much evaporated by my 10th birthday. However, I do have friends and family in the military today. Some of them are over there not to promote a nationalist foreign policy so much as they want to be able to afford a house in today’s lending market. I’m more likely to know someone who has been killed by drug dealers than by any military power. Knowledge of history can keep us from repeating our mistakes, but if we want to solve today’s problems, we will have to do it using today’s solutions.

The Search for Intelligent Life

Flying_Saucer _Aliens _-_GPN-2000-001993

When I heard the news report that the British government was closing down its UFO hotline, I thought to myself, if this was the start of a Doctor Who episode, this would be the exact moment where my organs would be sucked out for use in a hilariously impractical death ray. Fortunately, either Earth isn’t prone to those kind of threats, or human organs just don’t make very good death ray fuel.

I’ve always felt the question of whether you believe in extra-terrestrials or not is an asinine one. It’s not a question of believing. Aliens either exist or they don’t. That’s like asking if I believe in Hungarians. Besides, no one wants to be the guy who said, “I believe that humans are the most advanced form of life in the universe” when the giant head of Morena Baccarin appears over New York City. Not even a lifetime of slavery in a distant galaxy will let you let you live that down.

Walking in Downtown Vancouver

Every time I find myself in downtown Vancouver on a weekday, the song “Under Pressure” by Queen belts out in my head like a busker. Perhaps it’s the sea of business suits that bursts forth at noon for lunch. It’s quite a sight. Royal center mall is practically overrun. It looks like a high school cafeteria for investment bankers. I imagine running the rat race in Vancouver has to be more annoying than other large cities. In Toronto or New York, there’s nothing but buildings. In Van though, you can see out between the bars of your concrete prison. The grand forests of Stanley Park and the North Shore call out, “Hey You! You in the tie! Get out here and kill some deer with your bare hands!”

And you know what? Downtown is small enough that if you made a run for it, you just might make it back before lunch is over.

Savage Authority

I have a conundrum for you. Let’s say a certain Churubusco High School in Indiana is being sued by the ACLU. The school had banned two female students from all athletic and extra-curricular activities for one year for appearing in some photos where they were in lingerie, licking phallus-shaped lollipops. Dan Savage, a sex advice columnist whom I have read for many years, spent the intro of his November 10th podcast episode carpet f-bombing the whole situation. How dare they stifle these girls’ freedom of expression! Their bodies are theirs to post on MySpace where “only their friends can see them”. Here comes the conundrum. Why do I think that suing this school over this is a galactically stupid idea?

Now again, I wouldn’t be ranting about this unless I read Savage’s column, or listened to his podcast. They are entertaining and open up an important dialogue about our modern moral values. However, if he’s willing to beat up a principal over this, he has no idea how these situations work. The reason this suspension seems like an authoritarian beat-down is that the schools can’t talk to the media like the ACLU can. They can’t provide details of sweet jack all if it isn’t approved by their lawyers. Details like where they got the photos, what else the girls may be in trouble for, or complaints from other parents regarding these girls’ behavior.

Still, even though the photos were taken off of  school grounds, since they made it into school grounds, that turns it into something the school needs to deal with. It’s not going to matter that the photos were posted in a private area of Myspace (no pun intended) if the girls have several hundred friends. Even if the school did nothing about it, the photos would probably  be used against the girls in some other way, which would have the girls’ parents screeching into the principal’s office waving around a bullying lawsuit with the fury of 1000 Elizabeth Hasselbecks.

What will the lawsuit accomplish anyway, even if the girls win? Posting racy pictures online is still a bad idea. They will make you look flakey and desperate for attention no matter how enlightened our society gets. Meanwhile, the school will have to make some cuts to pay for their legal fees. What do you think will be the first to go? Athletics? Nah, the soccer moms would tear them a new arse. How about services that fewer students use, like drug counseling, or special needs? Oooh, I know! They could cut sex education! And if you think that the Principal should have thought more about his students’ welfare before going on his crusade against women’s bodies, ponder this. If he’s like any other school principal in the country, between dealing with this lawsuit, his staff, and hundreds of other students and parents, he has no time to think of anything but his students’ welfare.

You know, I deplore censorship of any kind. I also think sexual expression is a beautiful thing. Even so, this should not be the hill we die on for those ideals. The administration of Churubusco High School made a tough call, but this punishment pales in comparison to the kind of difficulties these girls will face in the future if they think this behavior is okay. Photos like that could damage their careers and relationships. Now that the girls know better, they can avoid all that. Freedom is the supreme value of our time, but if we send our kids to these schools to learn how to make decisions and think for themselves, we have to appreciate the lessons in all their forms. Even the ones that get you kicked off the volley ball team.