Friday, April 29, 2011

The Day The Earth Stood Still, not the movie

RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! Nah, don't bother. THERE IS NO ESCAPE! RESISTANCE IS FUTILE!!! Probably, but I will attempt the impossible, and avoid at ANY cost coverage of that, well, event that I need not bother speaking its name. Seriously, can one avoid going offline and not watch TV news for one whole day? I will only consider watching it in the event that anything goes wrong, but if it all goes according to plan, great. I'll say right here that I wish Will and Kate well. You cannot do worse than his parents. I remember that the teacher of my junior high social studies class (1985 at the latest) told us that Charles and Diana's marriage was arranged. It seems now that many people in the Royal family knew that it would end in disaster. There seems to be little coercion here though.

This, need it even be said, is going to dominate the news tomorrow in the English speaking world (note, if your page keeps switching to the main Yahoo! search page, try block any scripts coming from, and likely every nation that still has a monarchy. What's more, it is the first wedding of its kind in the digital age. Remember how some sites crashed when Michael Jackson died? That should pale in comparison, pardon the pun. The Royals still carry a big stick tens of thousands of miles away, not wanting this 'solemn' occasion being mocked by any of its colonies. Ah well, if anyone asks me today if I saw any part of it, I'll just say truthfully that no, I made a point of not seeing any part of it, and see how they react. I'll only be checking my e-mail tomorrow, but if anything actually newsworthy happens, I'll find out about it on Saturday, assuming that we still have an Internet. Will anyone even see this post? It may have been a complete waste of my time. Crap!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Oh Robert MacNeil, some autistic adults would like a word with you

When I had first heard what we can only assume is Robert MacNeil's curtain call, a six-part series where he gets personal for the first time after working in journalism for 50 years, talking about autism, which his grandson Nick has. I have to admit I was willing to put aside any reservations about journalistic integrity in regard to getting personally involved in a story, and asked some friends of mine to watch it, maybe even record it, but after what I had to learn second hand (because I don't subscribe to cable, my choice), I will state that this reinforces the danger of getting personally involved (particularly with your family) with a story. It's a gamble, and it seems he lost.

He lost in a number of ways, first and foremost he brought up the still unproven connection between autism and vaccines (I want to say disproven, but you can't prove a negative). This could be a huge step backward for us. That sector of the anti-science movement may have had new life breathed into it. It brings me to the same issue from yesterday, that long form certificate. Apparently, da Donald is proud of himself. You can be sure that if he is actually speaking the truth, he is speaking only for himself. The rest of the birthers are bitterly disappointed, those who believe that it's the genuine article. The rest/most of them are likely what could be called present-day "refuseniks" ("IT'S A LIE! IT'S A FORGERY!" and so on and so forth). Here is a likely explanation for the birther movement, as loathe as I am to play "the race card". It casts a pall on those of us who seek facts and absolute truth. Of course, one can't be absolutely sure of everything, but can one be absolutely sure of ANYTHING? Does 1 and 1 equal 2 in absolutely all cases?

Back to Robert MacNeil, he does autistic adults a tremendous disservice, Kim Wombles explains that autistic adults have their own set of problems, like high unemployment, reliance on family for support, and an overall lack of reliable services. She also points out that MacNeil didn't even care enough to interview autistic adults who were desperate for a cure, and I'm sure that there are plenty out there. From what I can tell, he simply did not even try to get the perspective of people who are actually on the autism spectrum, and that is probably the worst aspect of his documentary (again, I haven't seen it, feel free to prove me wrong). I'm certain that Mr. MacNeil has done tremendous work for the increasingly rare animal that is responsible, clear journalism (I may even pick up "Breaking News" one day). I'm sure that his body of work was greatly unappreciated, since the old MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour did not fall under the category of "Action" news. I'm also positive that he has done better work, which would be a shame if "Autism Now" were to overshadow everything else that he's done.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Birthers, the search for truth, and other opposites

I tried to stop myself looking at this issue for as long as I could. Just could not believe that this is a serious issue, yet people are still talking about it. You get the feeling that even if a videotape existed of Barack Obama being born in Honolulu with his father present for it, the kneejerk reaction would be to insist that it is a forgery, part of some kind of widespread conspiracy to get someone elected president who was not eligible. So much time and energy has been wasted on this issue, which should go without saying that this is a partisan thing. Has anyone seen any Democrat birthers? For what it's worth, a 'likely story' from CNN about Obama's birth certificate, but of course, the birthers will never be satisfied, they already 'know' what the 'real' truth is.

And now we have Donald Trump come out as one of them, and now he is running for president for 2012. Funny how you think that you think you know someone from television, news and movies, but when they run for public office, their entire lives, every sordid detail, are laid out for everyone to see. If any good comes out of this, Trump will be roundly humiliated and afraid to show his face in public again.

Even Shepard Smith speaking for Fox News basically says it's a non-story now. Here is a possible explanation for all of the conspiracy mindedness, and possibly some recommended reading.

BREAKING: President Obama has released his long-form certificate. You can be certain that the die-hard ninnies will insist that it is not the real one. They will want to see his KENYAN birth certificate. Good luck finding it.

It reminds me, I had a recent conversation with the Elbot, and he said something worth repeating. It was something like, "The more evidence there is, the less likely that humans will believe it." I don't know where that originally came from, but it does seem to explain a lot. So many people suffer from unshakable fallacies in their belief system, against all evidence to the contrary. Some people believe what they want to believe, and that's all there is to it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Canada, history fails us?

This article in the National Post about New Brunswick had started me thinking, wasn't Nova Scotia also dragged into Confederation kicking and screaming?  Aside from Ontario, isn't it true for the rest of them? (I won't even get started on the Natives). I learned in a history class at SMU that Nova Scotia was once an economic power house before confederation. It's hard to imagine, but I have little reason to doubt it. We were promised a bunch of stuff, like having our industries and institutions stay here in NS, and they were, for the most part, unkept. When did the Bank of Nova Scotia move its headquarters to Toronto anyway?

I had also learned that only one person in the NS legislature (Sir Charles Tupper), wanted to join Canada, the other sixty-something, including local legend Joseph Howe, fought against it. It was apparently to appease some higher interests, not for the benefit of the people living here. That was the way of the world back then (the Realist paradigm applies here). I wonder if that way of thinking still persists. Of course, there are endless conspiracy theories out there, some far removed from reality, others to fulfil some already biased viewpoints (9/11 'truthers' being one example).

In short, how bad would it be if we 'lost' Canada? If either Quebec or Alberta should decide to separate. In any case, it seems highly likely that Canada would be irretrievably changed if Stephen Harper were to attain a majority government, and I don't mean for the better. I envision a dismantling of democracy, if not a complete handover to corporate interests or even to the United States for economically weak regions like this one. I do not look forward to either option. If I ever want to become an American, I would move there, I do not want it moving here. To me, it would be the ultimate sellout for us.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

How Great Was Ayn Rand, Anyway?!

I was first introduced to this old woman years ago in a Frantics sketch for radio. They mentioned "Atlas Shrugged" and read a passage from it. Years later, I bought a copy of it at Coles, alongside a wrestling magazine (always had varied tastes). I only read halfway through the former (didn't have patience at the time for 1000+ pages). Much of what she says makes sense, one can learn a thing or two. Now a movie has been released. The first of a two-parter, and I could see it if I wanted without worrying about spoilers. After some consideration, I will just add the other half of AS to my list of must-reads. When the movie(s) come out on video, I may just consider watching them then. If this post on Wonkette is close enough to being true, I will make an effort to avoid throwing any money to this movement, which seems to be largely inspired by Ms. Rand. Her inspired selfishness came from an admiration of a sadistic child-killer. She has come to represent everything that is wrong with neo-liberalism today. As much as I've come to sympathize with capitalists, she is too much.

As for the Frantics, I'm going to see if they have that sketch somewhere online. I just downloaded "Boot to the Head" from iTunes a little while ago, and so far it has not included any female roles, as that sketch did. They were great on CBC radio, but in my opinion, their transition to TV left something to be desired. It was only sporadically funny in comparison (and the pacing was different), but they were only on TV for one season. They would have likely improved in the second season, if CBC TV had granted them one.

More on Ayn Rand from Slate.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The denouement is at hand, or is it?

It is high time I weighed in on the election, but I do not have much to say that is positive. I do not consider myself a liberal anymore, I'm more sympathetic to George Grant's worldview. Having said that, I dread the prospect of a Stephen Harper majority, I'm in the 'anyone but him' category. I'm not sure if Michael Ignatieff is 'ready for prime time' yet (or the whole Liberal Party for that matter), but they are the only two realistic chances we have.

Of course we have heard it all before, 'vote for this guy, and it's the end of Canada as we know it!'. We have probably heard that in every election. I could be wrong, like many other Canadians, again. But do we really want someone who breaks all the rules of Parliament with impunity? Who disrespects science, and basically tries to squelch all opinions other than his own? I can only suppose that we get the kind of democracy that we ask for, which is better than having none at all, which brings me to my other point.

You should check out thoughtundermined's blog about how the electoral process works. He may be a bit partial for Alternative Voting (that's what's being decided in England right now), but I'm in full agreement that the First-Past-The-Post system bites. This post contains two videos, the second one is a little easier to understand. It shows how undemocratic the two-party (and in our case, two-and-a-half [and the BQ]) system is. It's like all we have to choose from is the 'Bad' party and the 'Worse' party, even more so in the States. It would be nice if there was another serious contender (like here in Nova Scotia now).

This sort of thing has been building up for decades. There can be one of two possible outcomes. Either Harper succeeds in usurping the democratic process, or enough people try to overhaul the entire system, which we as a people do not seem to have much of a history of doing. Or am I wrong? Perhaps Christopher Moore can set me straight.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Under African Skies

It would appear that the Arabian/African Spring is blooming quite nicely. A combined effort of the United Nations (!) and France (!!) has led to the arrest of Laurent Gdagbo. I believe that it's a good thing, that they don't kill him before they can show him first hand the damage he's done. At least they have made him do a sort of 'perp walk'. Now the International Criminal Court is looking into charging him with crimes against humanity. Now if they can only get Khadaffy and Mugabe.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The news as it relates to me

I had the privilege yesterday morning to attend a press conference at my old workplace, where a couple of cabinet ministers and Premier Darrell Dexter announced the action they were going to take in response to the 53 recommendations made in the report from the Autism Management Advisory Team (it's 142 pages in the PDF format). I was struck by the fact that the 53 items were not mentioned specifically, but it does seem to be a good thing that they are doubling the budget for EIBI services (even though I have some reservations about it, such as it may not be a perfect fit for all autistic children) and getting rid of that 'lottery' in which half of children do not get it at all. The following pictures are from my own pocket Panasonic:
The Hon. Maureen MacDonald, Minister of Health
The Hon. Premier Dexter holding up the Autism Spectrum Disorder Action Plan

The Minister of Emergency Management Ross Landry also announced that the federal government has contributed $273 000 toward Project Lifesaver, which sets up a new surveillance and tracking system to make it easier for Search and Rescue teams to locate people with autism or conditions like Alzheimer's disease who have a tendency to wander off and get lost.
The Hon. Ross Landry, Minister of Emergency Management
I have not had much time to go over the ASD Action Plan (only 16 pages, PDF format). I just skimmed over it and it does seem to mention services for adults, despite what I said yesterday, I just did not get it from the speakers themselves. I'll comment on it when I've had time to go through it thoroughly.

Still on the subject of the Provincial Autism Centre, there was a report on Global TV last night about the work program that the PAC has. A couple of good friends of mine are featured. Which reminds me, I need to update my resume.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Limits to conservative coldness

I linked to this blog post by Ed Morrissey regarding the murder of 10 United Nations workers by a mob in Afghanistan protesting the burning of a Qu'ran in a Florida church (the latest), looking for someone to make light of their deaths. Apparently, I underestimated them. No one did, much less congratulated Messrs. Sapp and Jones. There weren't even any trolls as of this posting. If it is moderated, way to keep it tasteful Mr. Morrissey. More to the point, not all of them agreed with Pastor Jones, some of them even insulted him, and spoke out against the burning of any book.

I would also like to propose a deal to Muslims everywhere. If you do not condemn and hold the entire West responsible for the actions of an ignorant few, we will not hold all Muslims responsible for the deaths caused by enraged mobs against Westerners and each other half a world away. It seems like a stacked deal to me, what do you think?

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