A new blog and lots to say results in saying virtually nothing!

Ah well, there’s plenty of time to get into the habit and there’s always plenty to talk about. Just today I could have written entire blog posts on:

  • Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy being stripped of administration of a tourism funding programme for (wait for it…) funding tourism while Lisa Raitt continues to hold onto the sexy Chalk River file when she has handled it with nearly unmitigated disaster, risking the health and lives of not only Canadians but people around the world. The distinction? Not helping cancer patients is no big deal, but helping homosexuals is anathema.
  • On a related note, can right wing Yahoos refrain from using “pro-life” to mean anti-abortion-rights and “pro-family” to mean anti-gay-rights?
  • My thoughts relating to an ongoing debate about science journalism. The upshot? Science journalists have a great responsibility in reporting without sensationalism and with discretion. As things stand, it seems like every day a new study is reported saying that X might be beneficial or X might be detrimental. Without discrimination applied, much of science journalism fosters the impression that science is unreliable. It’s no wonder that many people find it difficult to distinguish scientific facts from religious faith.
  • On the post-Canada Day requiem for knowledge of Canada, Canadian history and Canadian institutions: perhaps Heritage Canada should revive those Heritage Minute ads—but with a difference: how about reviewing some basic facts about how our political system works (no, the PM is not the head of state and if we weren’t so ignorant or complacent about it, we would realise that his taking a military salute should be considered an extreme overstepping of his office, only one practical step away from usurpation; no we don’t elect a PM, we collectively elect a government & that government selects someone to recommend as PM; no, a coalition of elected MPs is not a perversion of democracy but a fulfillment of it), our geography (yes, there are 3 territories), and our history.
  • A couple of points raised by commenters on this post by Phil Plait on the Texas Board of Education: First, one that I commented on myself:

    @Rob Lee Says:@Petrolonfire #19 — “BTW. Is that a Godwin’s law record – nazis /Holocaust coming in at the fourth posts already!? :-O

    Haha — Ok, you got me there. In all seriousness, though, the point does stand. I feel that on an academic level, it is a very valid comparison. I try to stray away from the Nazi references, but in this case there really is not a better or more effective comparison.
    [The comparison being discussed is between scientists who deny evolution and historians who deny the Holocaust. Allegedly, more historians fall into the second group than scientists who fall into the first. – Ibis]

    I’ve seen this “statistic” used as a comparison several times, but as an historian I have to question whether its factual. Where did it come from? I don’t know of any legitimate, trained historian that seriously questions the reality of the Holocaust. Professional historians, like professional scientists, rely on evidence to draw their conclusions and the evidence in both cases are so overwhelming no rational person would doubt either. I suspect that this statistical comparison was pulled out of someone’s…um… hat.

    Second, is this annoying assertion by atheists that agnosticism is (a) a cop-out position (b) doesn’t actually exist (c) a position on a spectrum with gnosticism, while atheism is on an entirely separate spectrum with theism (this last one has some merit, but not in the manner it is usually deployed). Maybe some day when I have a bit of time, I’ll set the record straight.

And all of that is just off the top of my head (and ignores the number of other posts I have sitting here as drafts). Well, I guess this blog writing is a habit just waiting to be formed.

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Mulling It Over

June 13, 2009

Like everyone else, I’m thinking about a summer election: Yes or no? A tweet from Denis Coderre about 40 minutes ago asks:

En passant qui veut des elections maintenant?

Well, let’s see.

Con

  1. The opposition parties, especially the Liberals, are tapped out financially and wouldn’t be able to put on as aggressive a campaign as the Conservatives.
  2. Summer elections can be annoying which may cause a lower turnout among moderates.
  3. Voter fatigue and frustration at the prospect of yet another election in such a short span of time may cause backlash against opposition parties, especially the Liberals.

Pro

  1. The Conservatives are currently in a very weak position, showing their true colours with the Raitt/isotope issue, economic mismanagement, dismissive and antagonistic attitude to Quebec & central Ontario.
  2. Polls show the momentum is with the Liberals, especially in central Canada.
  3. One of the major criticisms of Ignatieff (at least as far as the media is concerned) is that we don’t know what alternative he’s offering. Of course, an election platform is the venue to show the alternative, and frankly, practically any alternative is better than what we have now:
    • a government that fights the courts to avoid protecting Canadian citizens abroad
    • a government that is more concerned with staying in power than respecting the constitution
    • a government that ignores, overrules, and ousts impartial arms-length agencies
    • a government that brings out the worst in people, encouraging regionalism, divisiveness, and small-mindedness
    • a government that ignores international obligations and treaties
    • a government that protects the oil industry at the expense of protecting the environment
    • a government that has judged that women no longer need to seek equality
    • a government that wants to squeeze every drop of life out of the CBC, until privatization or even dismantling it entirely seem rational options
    • a government that thinks the arts and culture (despite the high degree of income generation) are a waste of taxpayer money
    • a government that wants to privatize our nuclear industry
    • a government that still wants to fight a (1980s American) “War on Drugs” instead of sane approaches such as decriminalization or legalization of marijuana and preventive mental health care and treatment for addiction to harder drugs
    • a government that cuts (already low) funding to science and research
    • a government that pays lip service by apologizing for the residential schools but turns its back on the Kelowna accord and ignores aboriginal poverty
    • a government that says they’re “tough on crime” but supports illegal gun ownership
  4. There is a whole election campaign to drum up support and tear down the Conservatives’ shaky hold on seats outside of their Reform base
  5. Those people who are most firmly in the “we don’t want an election” camp are not going to go to the polls just so they can vote for someone other than the Libs. They’ll just stay home, as they have for the past 5 or 6 elections.
  6. The NDP will look a bit tired with Jack again at the helm, so the non-Conservative vote might not be split as much as otherwise. Same goes for Duceppe and the Bloc.
  7. Voters who went to the Greens last time because they didn’t like the idea of Dion as PM, but still didn’t want to support Harper, might come back to vote Liberal with Ignatieff as leader.

All in all, I think that despite the cons, now is as good a time as any to go. So I say “moi, Denis”.