Saturday, June 28, 2008

It looks like I'll have lots of company in Hell...

...including almost 25% of my countryfolk:
Fewer than three-quarters of Canadians believe in a god, suggests a new Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey.

"Religion in Canada today is not a particularly divisive subject and tolerance levels for different beliefs are high," said Harris-Decima president Bruce Anderson. "This is evident in the fact that one in four people feel comfortable saying they do not believe in a god."

The poll found 72 per cent of respondents said they believed in a god, while 23 per cent said they did not believe in any god. Six per cent did not offer an opinion.

Results may not total 100 per cent because of rounding.

Polls have told a different story in the United States.

"Canada's secularism stands in clearer distinction, when compared to the cultural and political influences of religion in the United States," said Anderson. "In one Harris Interactive study in the United States, conducted in 2007, the number who said they were non-believers was only eight per cent."

From here, via babble. Other highlights:

- Women (76 per cent) were more likely than men (67 per cent) to say they believed in a god.

- Canadians over the age of 50 (82 per cent) were far more likely than those under the age of 25 (60 per cent) to say they believed in a god. More than one in three (36 per cent) of those under the age of 25 said they did not believe in any god.

- English Canadians (73 per cent) were more likely than French Canadians (67 per cent) to say they believed in a god.

- Belief in a god is higher in rural Canada (76 per cent) than in urban Canada (69 per cent).

None of these particularly surprise me, except maybe the fact that women are more likely to believe than men. Interesting that more than a third of under 25s are nonbelievers, though.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A funny thing about the federal Liberals

From this babble thread. Darwin O'Connor says:
Garth Turner has been one who has consistently been there for confidence motions and had made no secret about his disagreement with Dion in his blog.
To which Scott Piatkowski replies:
So, in other words, the one Liberal who is standing up to the Harper agenda is the one who was elected by promising to advance it.
I think this says something, I'm just not sure what...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

More reasons to beware of God

It isn't just Jehovah's Witnesses who keep their kids from proper medical care:
Authorities say a teenager from a faith-healing family died from an illness that could have been easily treated, just a few months after a toddler cousin of his died in a case that has led to criminal charges.

Tuesday's death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, however, may not be a crime because Oregon law allows minors 14 and older to decide for themselves whether to accept medical treatment.

"All of the interviews from last night are that he did in fact refuse treatment," police Sgt. Lynne Benton said Wednesday. "Unless we can disprove that, charges probably won't be filed in this case."

An autopsy Wednesday showed that Beagley died of heart failure caused by a urinary tract blockage.

He probably had a congenital condition that constricted his urinary tract where the bladder empties into the urethra, and the condition of his organs indicates that he had multiple blockages during his life, said Dr. Clifford Nelson, deputy state medical examiner for Clackamas County.

"You just build up so much urea in your bloodstream that it begins to poison your organs, and the heart is particularly susceptible," Nelson said.

Nelson said a catheter would have saved the boy's life. If the condition had been dealt with earlier, a urologist could easily have removed the blockage and avoided the kidney damage that came with the repeated illnesses, Nelson said.

From CNN, via the Little Bald Bastard.

More on the Colleen Leduc thing

A curious pattern seems to have arisen in the media coverage of this case. The more conservative media, like the Toronto Sun, the National Post, and the like are all over it, whereas centrist (but socially liberal) media such as the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star have ignored it. The genuine left is pretty hit and miss too, though I found out about this on a babble thread, and Bread and Roses has a thread on it now too. Alternet has also covered the story. Still, it's kind of odd. I have a feeling that there's a reluctance to demonstrate the ridiculousness of this sort of superstition, perhaps for fear of offending the granola set, or just a sense that it's rude to undermine people's deeply held beliefs no matter how ridiculous they are. Meanwhile, the socons at the more right wing mainstream media are only too glad to ridicule superstition, as long as it isn't the dominant superstition.

Monday, June 23, 2008

RIP George Carlin

Sad but true:

George Carlin, the dean of counterculture comedians whose biting insights on life and language were immortalized in his Seven Words You Can Never Say On TV routine, died of heart failure Sunday at the age of 71.

Carlin, who had a history of heart trouble, went into St. John's Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday afternoon complaining of chest pain and died later that evening, said his publicist, Jeff Abraham.

He had performed as recently as last weekend at the Orleans Casino and Hotel in Las Vegas.

From here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Uh... why are we in Afghanistan again?

Oh yeah...
Canadian Forces would support the Afghan National Army in providing security for a proposed natural gas pipeline through war-torn Kandahar if the Afghanistan government asks for help, federal officials said yesterday.

But the Canadian government has not been involved in any planning for the project, including the potential need to protect the pipeline from insurgent attacks, officials added.

Afghanistan agreed this spring with three neighbouring countries - gas-rich Turkmenistan and energy-hungry Pakistan and India - to construct a $7.6-billion (U.S.) natural gas pipeline to connect those markets by traversing the most violence-prone regions of the country.

In a report released yesterday, international energy economist John Foster said the pipeline could require Canada's assistance in providing security, particularly as Afghanistan has vowed to clear the route of land mines and insurgents before the proposed construction start date of 2010.

From the Globe, via pogge. So we've got two years to completely wipe out the Taliban, because if there's any left, all they have to do is keep bombing different points along the pipeline- pretty hard to guard the entire thing. I don't know, if the Soviet Union, and the UK a century before, were unable to conquer Afghanistan, it's a pretty bold assumption to suppose that we can, doncha think?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The real Da Vinci code

No, as far as I know it doesn't disclose the actual location of the Holy Grail, but...

Jan. 8, 2008 -- Another Da Vinci code is emerging from Leonardo's masterpieces, according to a forthcoming book by group of Da Vinci theorists who believe that biblical images are hidden within the master's artworks.

Worthy of a Dan Brown novel, the claim identifies Leonardo's mirror writing as the key to unlocking the code.

From discovery.com, via aprilreign.

US plans for world domination leaked

...or at least a small part of them:
Summary

US Army Field Manual FM 31-20-3, Foreign Internal Defense Tactics Techniques and Procedures for Special Forces; 2004 edition. Made US Army doctrine (policy) on 20 September 1994; 219 printed pages. Written at the sensitive but unclassified level.

This sensitive US military counterinsurgency manual could be critically described as "What we learned about running death squads and propping up corrupt government in Latin America and how to apply it to other places". Its contents are both history defining for Latin America and, given the continued role of US Special Forces in the suppression of insurgencies and guerilla movements world wide, history making.

The document, which is official US Special Forces policy, directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control, restrictions on labor unions & political parties, suspending habeas corpus, warrantless searches, detainment without charge, bribery, employing terrorists, false flag operations, concealing human rights abuses from journalists, and extensive use of "psychological operations" (propaganda) to make these and other "population & resource control" measures palatable.

From WikiLeaks, via N. Beltov at babble.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A record-breaking day

The day isn't even over yet and already I've topped my previous daily record number of hits. So far I have 16 hits, the vast majority of them from people searching for information about Colleen Leduc (though I got a couple of David Hahn hits for some reason as well). It's nice to see that this incident has touched a nerve- maybe it will make a few people think twice before going to a psychic.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Psychic almost ruins woman's life

Scary as fuck:

Colleen Leduc already had a lot going against her. The Barrie woman was holding down a job while struggling to raise her autistic 11-year-old daughter. She couldn't afford to give the child the intensive therapy she needed, and was forced to send her to a public school in the area.

So she was completely unprepared for what happened to her and the youngster, an almost unbelievable tale of red tape involving a strange claim from a teaching assistant, a bizarre decision by a school board, a visit from the Children's Aid Society (CAS) and most improbably of all, the incorrect pronouncements of a psychic.

From here, via Snuckles at babble.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Buy one house, get one free!

I shit you not:
In a sign of how difficult it is to sell new homes in Southern California right now, a San Diego developer is offering a "buy one, get one free" deal, pairing million-dollar homes with less expensive homes.
Thanks to Canadian Silver Bug for the link, as well as for some interesting analysis.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Israel going apeshit?

Uh-oh...

An Israeli minister has said an attack on Iran's nuclear sites will be "unavoidable" if Tehran refuses to halt its alleged weapons programme.

In the most explicit threat yet by a member of Ehud Olmert's government, Shaul Mofaz, a deputy prime minister, said the hardline Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, "would disappear before Israel does".

"If Iran continues with its programme for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective," Mofaz, who is also Israel's transport minister, said in comments published today by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"Attacking Iran in order to stop its nuclear plans will be unavoidable."

From the Guardian. Kind of worrisome, to say the least.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Facebook mystery

There's a curious post going around Facebook of late, which looks like this:

***********************

HACKER WARNING

[name deleted]

She is a hacker. Please pass this on to all your friends asap before she infiltrates your account.

DO NOT ADD HER!!!!!!!!!
The "warning" comes with a picture of an attractive, counterculture-like teenage girl. Now it's possible that the warning is legit, of course, but think about it- if you were clever enough to hack Facebook, you'd be clever enough to hack a lot of more interesting- and lucretive- things. On the other hand, from the point of view of a teenage jerk who wanted to harass the hell out of some other kid, making up shit like this about someone might seem like a tempting tactic- making it harder for her to make friends on Facebook. And it's the kind of story that makes a good "viral" meme, like all those "virus warning" emails (many if not most of these have turned out to be hoaxes, BTW).

I have to admit that I'm a bit conflicted about whether or not to include her name in this post or not. If she's innocent, would this help by drawing a few Google hits from folks who might think twice before swallowing the story, or would it simply be a further invasion of her privacy? I'm inclined to think the former, but I'm not going to act on that without soliciting the opinion of others first. After all, if I do release her name, and decide later that I was wrong to do so, it can't be easily recalled (if nothing else, it will be in Google and similar caches for quite a while).

So it looks like Obama is it...

It was announced on the radio that it's now all but official- Barack Obama will be the Democrats' presidential candidate this fall. On balance I see this as a good thing; Obama's the best of a bad lot. If Clinton won the nomination I'd still strongly favour her over McCain; on the other hand, if they were options I would, in a heartbeat, pick Jack Layton, Elizabeth May, or probably even St├ęphane Dion over Obama. After all, as my mum said of Obama, "he's still a Yankee".

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Conservative folk music

You might remember that old Kids in the Hall routine about "Career ending moments in show business". The first of these moments involve a promising young film star who inadvertently includes Hitler in her list of people she wants to thank while accepting an Oscar, while the second involves an earnest young folk group singing a ballad in praise of "Senator Joe". Of course, there were conservatives who liked the folk music form. One of these people was Janet Greene. There doesn't seem to be a Wikipedia article about her, but I think she actually exists nevertheless. Although the first title shown on this page is "Fascist Threat", most of the songs are about the communist threat. She's billed as the "Anti-Baez", and while her message is pretty straight-up propaganda, I have to concede that she's actually a pretty good singer. She actually sounds a lot like her nemesis in a lot of the songs (these can be heard on an embedded player on the site). And she does have a way with words, even if I don't particularly like what she's doing with them. The whole page is worth reading actually, particularly the interview with her (she's actually not the one-dimensional person you'd expect).

Thanks to N. Beltov in this babble thread for the link.

ETA: the link to the babble thread is dead, though the link to Conelrad's page on Greene is happily still there.