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Rev Blair

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Everything posted by Rev Blair

  1. Hold on a second there, Bubalooee...I hope there's somebody else here old enough to remember that cartoon. I don't mean to imply for a second that the show is legitimate or that ghosts exist, just that the people in it aren't committing purposeful fraud. I've known quite a few true believers over the years, and I'd rather deal with purposeful frauds because you can expose a fraud. You can't expose a true believer though...they want to believe and can rationalize anything. Their rationalizations even make sense on the surface. I don't think the guys on the plumber/ghost show are trying to fool anybody, I just think they are fooling themselves.
  2. Several universities offer distance learning courses. Whether you can get a full degree that way, I'm not sure. I know that the universities of Waterloo, Carleton, Winnipeg, and BC all offer distance learning because their classes used to be available on my TV in the middle of the night, but I never looked into it beyond that. Sometimes arthritis-induced insomnia can be quite educational.
  3. Rev Blair

    broken glasses

    Umm, why don't you just go get some new ones? That's what I do when I break my glasses. Actually, I get my wife to take me, since I can't drive without glasses.
  4. These plumber guys seem to be on the level...I don't think they are purposely defrauding anybody. I've been watching them for most of the summer, since there's nothing else on in that time slot and the show doesn't usually distract me much, and they seem to debunk hauntings about as much as they confirm them. They also try to be scientific. The thing is that they are true believers and, since nobody knows what a ghost is or how to detect it, they are using technology designed for other purposes and interpreting the results according to pseudo-science established only in the popular imagination, not reality. They can't go to experts in the technology because the experts tend not to be true believers and will shatter the plumbers' illusions.
  5. We had a Canadian Prime Minister who pointed out that an election was no time to discuss policy. She lost the election, she was really a sacrificial lamb tossed in to take the fall for her predecessor, but I think she was right. An election is kind of like professional wrestling...a lot of posturing and yelling...theatrics, but not much deep thought. The thought happens before. I've looked at Obama's record and his policies, and I'm of the opinion that there's more depth there than I've seen from presidential contender in my lifetime. Does that translate into campaign rhetoric? Not a chance. It might fit into a long format print interview in the format popular in the early 1960's, but trying to explain any real policy in today's media environment is almost impossible. Do all of his supporters understand, or even know about, the policies and the record behind the rhetoric? Hell no. It's complex and a lot of it is dull as hell. If you look at any political campaign, successful or not, there are always a lot of supporters there for emotional gratification, not because of policy.
  6. It shouldn't be a problem, but there are a few things that might come up. The first is that many small engines use a mixture of plastic and rubber parts in their fuel systems. some of those materials dissolve when exposed to alcohol. Make sure that all parts in the fuel system are compatible with ethanol use. The next is small 2-stroke engines. These are the ones that use a fuel/oil mixture instead of having a separate lubrication system. They gum up if you leave fuel in them whether that fuel is ethanol or gasoline. Third would be evaporation. E-10 is 10% ethanol, E-85 is 85% ethanol. Ethanol evaporates faster than gasoline, so that mixture will change if left to sit in an open system. Many small engines, like those on yard equipment, have a carburetor and a vented gas cap, so the system is open. They also don't have computer-controlled fuel and ignition systems, so can be tuned only to one kind of fuel. As somebody who still drives trucks with carbs instead of fuel injection, I can tell you that evaporation is a problem now even with conventional gasoline. I have no data, but I think the fuel makers are doing less to inhibit evaporation since it isn't an issue in fuel injected (closed system) vehicles. If you aren't using an engine or the fuel that powers it regularly, I suggest getting a fuel stabilizer suitable for your fuel type. If you can't find it at your regular auto parts store, try a speed shop that caters to the hot rodders and racers.
  7. Even if the technology they were using was cheap, there was a kind of consistency to the effect though, ecoli. That leads me to believe that it was external to the technology, like bad lighting and dust in conventional photography. I've seen a lot of images of ghosts and UFOs on similar shows that were obviously an internal reflection in the lens, usually of the aperture, and this didn't seem like that.
  8. Well, that's something I was wondering Cap'n. I have no experience with this kind of technology. I do know a fair bit about building technology and air flows and a lot about photography. I've even picked up a little about why "voices" show up in the white noise on tapes. I know virtually nothing about heat-imaging though.
  9. I was watching (well, half-watching) some ghost-hunting plumbers on Space last night and there was segment where they had a heat-imaging camera on a psychic doing a reading. They got some results that they allegedly couldn't explain...of course they didn't go to any experts in the technology looking for answers, just said they couldn't explain it. Now normally I have no trouble debunking the various photographic effects that allegedly prove the existence of ghosts, goblins, and aliens because I spent several years in the photographic industry and am pretty well-versed in what happens with cheap optics, airborne dust, and people too dim to understand basic lighting techniques. I'm not familiar with the heat-imaging technology though, so I'm a little intrigued. Not intrigued enough to do actual research, mind you, but enough to hope somebody has an easy to understand explanation. The situation is this: They were in an old house, so it would have been drafty etc. A mixture of colours seemed to flow from the person having the reading done to the "medium". The medium raised and lowered his hand and the colours subsided. The colours were a mix of reds and yellows, with a large green patch above. The reds seemed to emanate from the face and neck of the person being read (his uncovered skin) and the yellows from his body region (covered by clothing). The greens seemed to be from above. My personal guess: I'm guessing that green represents a cooler temperature than yellow or red. That leads me to believe that there was a draft that took body heat from the person being read towards the medium. When the medium raised and lowered his arm, he disrupted the air-flow, causing the warm and cold air to mix and the colours to subside. My questions: Is heat-imaging technology sensitive enough to detect something like that? Does the human body give off enough heat to affect that kind of technology over three to five feet (the distance between the medium and his subject)? Why do ghost-hunting plumbers have a show on Space? Wouldn't it be better to just show yet another Star Trek re-run?
  10. Free market economics simply don't work. Deregulation leads to bad business practices and corruption, bad business practices and corruption lead to market collapses. We learned after 1929, but we forgot it again. Most of it is also incredibly short-sighted. Look at the environmental problems we face, and most of them come from a lack of regulation of industry. Look at shrinking wages and growing wage disparity. How is it good for CEOs to make millions while the people who do the actual work can barely afford to pay for food and shelter?
  11. So they are more important because some of your tax money was used to train them? I guess that makes my dogs more important than most of the people on the planet, since I use my money to feed them. As for indiscriminate bombing, why was the BBC/Al Jazeera office blown up? Why were so many villages bombed? Why was infrastructure such as power stations and water supply targeted in both Afghanistan and Iraq? Why the use of depleted uranium and daisy cutters in both Afghanistan and Iraq? If the military doesn't believe in indiscriminate bombing, then they better start bringing whoever okayed those things up on charges. It's not just my opinion though, it is at the base of the "hearts and minds" argument your military has alluded to since at least Vietnam. It's been discussed by policy expert after policy expert. Ah, but the major argument against, made by the pharmaceutical companies and their friends in western governments, is that there is a glut of medicinal opiates on the market. In the rich western/northern countries that's true, but in the developing world the opposite is happening, and poor people in the developed world often cannot afford those same medicines at current prices. The pharmaceutical corporations are afraid they'll lose some of their profit margin (there is no patent on morphine) so the poppies aren't being made legal. Yeah, Le Monde reported that two or three years ago. You really should spend more time perusing the international press. You should also realize that he's known as "The Mayor of Kabul" because things are in such a mess that he's afraid to go out and about...a good chunk of the country does not recognize him as their leader, and that's not limited to the Taliban. Hell, he used to be part of the Taliban. Oh come on. Karzai was hand-picked by NATO. A lot of our warlord buddies were too. Those warlords use their positions to settle old disputes and smuggle heroin. Meanwhile, these old men who are good buddies with Bush and company kicked Malalai Joya out of parliament even though she was duly elected. She spoke out against the warlords, you see. Not a peep from the US and Canada (or Britain, the Netherlands, Poland, etc...) over that. There's not much point in freeing somebody if they're dead. My argument is not about making the US wrong either...keep in mind that Canada is one of the few countries also involved in that quagmire in southern Afghanistan.
  12. Bush has gone out of his way...fought all the way to the Supreme Court...to keep his meetings with oil executives as secret as possibly. Oil has been considered a national security issue in the US since at least the 1970's. Bush's top advisors all have links to the oil industry. Oil companies have wanted back into Iraq for about three decades. Oil companies have been given no bid contracts. Bremer de-nationalized the oil industry (this is actually against US and international law, since making such large changes to a country's economy is a no-no). I could go on for pages. It may just be circumstantial evidence, but there is a whole lot of it. At the very least you, Pangloss, should be screaming that the contents...full transcripts...of what was discussed at those meetings with executives be released to the public.
  13. I happen to live in a temperate to arctic region. I won't speculate on what the weather here was like during the LIA, but in the present: It is the heat that generates summer storms. That's no big mystery...heat causes the water to evaporate and forms clouds etc. In the winter, it has to be relatively warm to storm. It seldom snows when it is really cold, and it's usually right around the freezing mark when a blizzard starts. It usually cools over the course of the blizzard, and the snow stops falling. That's not much of a mystery either...cold air lacks the capacity to hold as much moisture. That's why the current arctic is so dry as well, with most of the precipitation coming in the spring and fall. Of course that's changing now, what with global warming and all.
  14. Why is this just a conspiracy theory? Bush and Cheney are known to be connected to the oil companies, and they have a record of letting their corporate pals write policy...remember Enron? Kucinich is also much more than just a former press secretary. He's an elected representative and he ran in the presidential primaries. Trying to just write him off as another conspiracy theorist is unfair.
  15. Why are they more important at all? Why are their lives more valuable than a civilian's? That's the real purpose of bombs and artillery, to keep the soldiers safe. The flip side of that is that damage to civilians and the infrastructure those civilians depend on is increased. Isn't it? Perhaps that attitude is why occupying armies tend to lose insurgencies. Except that's not what we've done. We've put people in office. We only let our buddies run for office, and the highest office in the land is held by an oil company shill. Corruption is massive. There is no freedom of the press...there are journalists locked up for questioning the Koran. Women are still badly abused. Actually, I wouldn't have. I would have paid hard cash for the crop and set up processing facilities to make medicine. The developing world, and the underprivileged in the developed world could use all that that was produced. We don't want that to happen because we can't profit from it. Even without the shortage of opiate-based medicine for poor people, even if the product was going to be heroin, I wouldn't burn the crops that represent the only cash crop available to those people. They aren't the ones with the drug problem after all, Europe and North America are. Again, I'd buy the crop. Then it could be burned or whatever. Except that there were opportunities. We didn't take them and let the situation get way out of hand. We could have gone in when the Russians left, before the Taliban gained too much power. We could have not funded the people we did when the Russians were there, for that matter. We could have invoked the duty to protect long ago and gone in. We could have used pressure through our allies in area. We did none of those things. Doing those things couldn't even be discussed without the people who now claim to be there in the name of democracy and protecting women shouting you down.
  16. I'd likely get a few acres of rocks and trees and maybe a field to drive a tractor around in. Then I'd retire.
  17. I doubt anything in evolution has a simple, clean, positive answer. It's messy and not very efficient. That's why I propose a bunch of things...I think that it's likely multiple pressures that push any given evolutionary trait. As for whether we developed bipedalism in the forest or on the savannah, I don't see why it can't be both. If populations either migrated between the forest and the plains seasonally, or loosely aligned groups split but still intermingled, isn't it possible that bipedalism gave an advantage in both environments? Think about it...it's easier to reach branches if you are standing, and I very clearly remember standing on one branch and holding onto another when picking saskatoons when I was a kid. So if we lived in both environments and standing up and walking was beneficial in both, that would drive it too. That's pretty much all of evolution though, isn't it? Simple sexual selection. Some of that selection is based on survival needs, but I've been around enough barnyards to know that some other animals just don't like some other animals for reasons I've never seen explained.
  18. Again though, I don't see it as Marxist. It isn't an idea specific to that particular worldview. Indeed, it is an idea that has been put forth by anarchists, Marxists, socialists, liberals and even conservatives. The danger of corporate influence on government is an issue that crosses political lines pretty easily. No, the left would have you go in to protect the people who are being killed there. The call is for peacekeepers, not an invasion. The purpose is to protect civilians being hunted down and killed because of a combination of ethnic tensions and the government wanting clear access to oil.
  19. It's not just one way though. The media doesn't cover much that doesn't directly involve us though, and that direct involvement almost always comes when somebody pushes back against us. The House of Saud has suffered terrorist attacks that have nothing to do with religious extremism, but with their oppressive regime. Egypt has constant problems dealing with the disenfranchised there. There is a huge democratic movement in Iran. You can look around Africa and South America and Eastern Europe for more examples. The Berlin Wall and the Solidarity movement come to mind. Those are all examples of the same thing...people pushing back against repression. Sometimes it's violent and sometimes it's not, but the governments involved tend to think of it as terrorism and their response is generally military. There are other ways to deal with it though. Look how far China has come in the last three decades or so. That didn't happen because of guns. Likely the single best way to undermine the power of extremism is to spread the wealth around. Create a middle class. Don't imprison people for their ideas. Then the governments have to become less extreme, and the extremists have less access to governing. You don't have to atone for the sins of your father, but you do have to accept and learn from those sins. Instead we repeat them. Think of the Holocaust. Six million or so dead Jews. We knew what was going on, or had an idea, yet we turned away Jewish refugees by the boatload. After the war when people started asking how we let this happen, the politicians said they didn't know what was happening. They did though...those refugees told them. Now look at what happened in Rwanda, or the Congo, or what is presently happening in Sudan. It's the same dynamic. We don't the refugees, have made it more difficult for them to get here. We're making the same mistakes again. You are misinterpreting what I said. My point was that the war on Afghanistan is really about vengeance. It's not about democracy or freedom or protecting ourselves. It's not about women's rights or repression. It's not even about that pipeline they want to build. It's about vengeance. If it was about any of those other things, we would have gone in sooner with aid, education, and peacekeepers. I remember conservatives arguing with me back in the nineties because I was saying that something had to be done about female circumcision, the destruction of the Buddhas and so on...all things linked to religious extremism. The standard reply was that it was not our problem and that such a backward little country was no threat to us and we shouldn't interfere in their culture. We didn't care until they came here. Well, they wouldn't have been able to come here...wouldn't have built up the momentum...if we had done something earlier. You don't bring or give freedom though...that's what we say we're trying to do with guns right now. You allow the people to take their own freedom. That's done with reasonable protection, aid, and education. You use diplomacy. It's a far better defense policy than waiting until it's too late, then going in with guns blazing. You also have to accept that we are responsible for a lot of the problems...not just the US, but all of the west. It was our policies that caused a lot of what we are dealing with now. Here's a question: What would the Middle East look like right now if we hadn't installed the shah in Iran? What if their democratic experiment was allowed to spread across the area instead? Another question: What would it look like if we hadn't divvied things up after WWI? In both cases, religious extremism hadn't taken hold yet. There were no bin Ladens. Ah, so the presence of a few soldiers in Winnipeg (there are still military bases here) would justify destroying the entire city in the case of a war? If a few soldiers headed into your neighbourhood, the enemy would be justified in blowing up your house or dropping a few daisy cutters i the local schoolyard? That's the equivalent of what we're up to in Afghanistan and how the war in Iraq has been fought. Why? Our soldiers sign up more or less willingly. They know what they are getting into. The civilians don't have that knowledge or make that choice. Oh? What ideas have we instilled in Afghanistan? The idea of installing a corrupt puppet government? The idea of torturing people? The idea of burning crops?
  20. Standing may also make you appear larger though, so some predators may decide not to attack you. There's a trade-off there in any case, but if standing upright allowed some other things, like tool use and more efficient cooling, then those would act with being able to see better and appearing larger to encourage standing.
  21. Primitive women? My guess is that it was a combination of factors. I think we were likely knuckle walkers, like the chimps. We likely used some very basic tools, again like the chimps, to feed ourselves. Somebody who could carry a stick a little further would have a better chance of passing on their genes. Cooling likely had a bit to do with it too. Being able to stand up catch the breeze is a pretty cool thing (har) to do in a hot environment.
  22. I don't think a response that reaches the same conclusion as Marx makes it a Marxist response, CDarwin. Marx did warn about the influence of corporations on government, but so have many others. Few, if any, of them have been big supporters of capitalism (I think Teddy Roosevelt might have been, but don't remember the specifics), but most of them are supportive of democratic principles. In the case of Iraq being a war for oil, it's been pretty clear that was the case from the beginning. You don't guard an office building (the Ministry of Oil) while the city is being looted unless gaining control of that building was your primary goal. What has kept the real cause of the war...oil...to be kept out of the public sphere of discussion is a basic misunderstanding of what a war for oil means in this case. It does not mean keeping cheap oil flowing for the US market. That would be distasteful and illegal, but would at least provide a short-term benefit for US voters. It means generating massive profits for the oil companies. Nothing to do with the people at all. Those corporations are more than willing to sell to the highest bidder, whether that bidder is the US, China, or Gilligan's Island.
  23. There are two parts to this. The first is the rule of law. You can either live by the rule law...which we in the west are mostly responsible for writing...or you can ignore the law. What you can't do, and what we have been doing, is ignore the law but insist that the other side obey it. The second is common sense. You can't just go around pissing people off and expect that there will be no repercussions. In the case of bin Laden and Islamist extremists, it is western actions in the Middle East, especially the US relationship with Saudi Arabia, that were the primary impetus, followed by the issue of Israel's actions in that neighbourhood. Taking responsibility for our actions 60 years ago is not the same as punishing ourselves. it is standing up like responsible adults, admitting our mistakes, and working not to repeat them. Not at all, it's just that vengeance is the real driving force behind Afghanistan, especially in the early days. What could and should have been a limited series of surgical strikes became the bombing of villages. Civilians have been locked up, abused, beaten, shot, and bombed. The current government there is corrupt and it's policies are almost incoherent. The Taliban are regrouping and striking pretty much at will. The aid money that could have changed minds has been sorely lacking. The west is backing warlords that are every bit as bad as the Taliban. Nothing explains our actions unless the war is really about vengeance. I do. There were several Canadians working in those office buildings. It was us who took all your planes when you airspace was closed. We've co-operated with your security measures at a great cost to our sovereignty. We went to Afghanistan with you and are still there. Funny thing about the Oklahoma City bombing...and it wasn't cowshit, it was chemical fertilizer mixed with diesel fuel to make ANFO, something that a lot of farm boys have learned about when clearing rocks and stumps...but that backlash was also predictable and predicted. The perpetrators where charged and brought to trial. The man behind the 1993 bombing of the WTC was also arrested and brought to trial. He committed a criminal act and was treated like a criminal. You might still be freaked. You, like us, have done nothing to address the real problems though. In fact our actions have most likely increased the chances of more attacks. Do you think bin Laden and his pals would be able to recruit people who were well-educated and content with their lives? Not likely. Now look at what's been happening in the Middle East since the end of WWI and ask yourself where the discontentment comes from. The people that they recruit are poorly educated...even those who attend university are also taught religious superstition...and discontent with their lives for any number of reasons. So you treat the terrorists as the criminals they are while working through soft power and diplomacy to educate people and give them something to be content about. This isn't some magical new idea, it's something the Romans did, something the Huns did, and something the successful colonial powers did. It worked and when they quit doing it, they lost. What are these primary military targets. A village full of women and children is not a military target even if there is a military presence there. If you were to go in and use small arms so that you can target individuals, that would be one thing. Dropping bombs where you know there are civilians is quite another though. The message that gets sent is that the life of one of your soldiers is worth more than the life of one of their civilians. I've heard as high as 15,000 during the initial bombings. We'll likely never know the real number. Al Qaeda destroyed a relatively small area though, and the west had the capacity to deal with it. Not a lot of people lost everything they had in the 911 attacks, and those that did had a safety net. This war has taken away the ability of a lot of people to make a living...to feed themselves and their children. Canada spends ten cents on reconstruction and aid for every every dollar it spends on the war in Afghanistan. I don't know the US figure offhand but I know it's similar to the Canadian one. I also know that much of the aid money that does get spent is tainted by the presence of CIA operatives acting as aid workers. In the end, you are trying to kill an idea with a gun. It's never worked before and it won't work now. You fight ideas with ideas.
  24. I didn't say that current warming wasn't affecting the weather. I said that other factors affect the weather and did so in the past. It was a counter to the fallacy you put forth that if global warming was causing current weather events, then there must not have been weather events in the past. We had several tornadoes in my province yesterday. We've been seeing lightning in January. Predictions are, once again for a hotter summer. Now, no single event can, at least thus far, be attributed to global warming. We don't get a lot of tornadoes here though. I never saw lightning in January until a little less than a decade ago, now it happens almost every year. Not only are our summers getting hotter, but they are more humid as well. Moose and bear are showing up in the city more and more. That didn't used to happen. There are also bear on the farm where I grew up for the first time in memory. That memory goes back four generations and even further if you talk to the native elders. The animals are moving because they are looking for food. I talk to farmers who are unsure of when to seed because spring comes earlier, but the rain is less predictable. In the arctic, where the effects (as predicted) have been more severe, hunters are having trouble predicting both ice conditions and weather. People are dying as a result. Some communities are returning to using dogs instead of snowmobiles. They aren't doing so to reduce emissions, but because if the dogs fall through the ice the hunter has a better chance of saving himself. Melting permafrost has made house-moving the only growth industry in some of these communities. Increased precipitation and faster spring thaws are speeding up the loss of permafrost, causing more damage. There are other problems up north, south of the treeline. Ice roads freeze later and thaw earlier. Those roads are how supplies are brought in. Prices get driven up and people go hungry. Animals trapped for fur have lower quality winter coats. Forest fires are on the rise. In British Colombia, pine beetles are devastating the forests. Pine beetles are usually kept in check by long, cold winters, but that's not happening anymore because the climate is changing. Both above and below the treeline, animals that have never lived there before are moving in. All of that has been documented in one scientific study or another, even my own anecdotal evidence is backed by studies in a variety of disciplines. It is all weather related in one way or another. And those are just a few examples. I don't know what kind of changes you are seeing in New Zealand, although I do know that Tim Flannery certainly doesn't agree with your take on things.
  25. It sounds really simple, and I know it isn't. A green economy puts a monetary value on environmental damage though, and increases the price of that damage slowly and predictably over time. We've been subsidizing polluters since the nineteenth century by paying to clean up or simply living with the messes they make. They make a profit off of us, then we pay to clean up after them. If we stop doing that, if we tell them they have to pay to clean up their own mess, including real jail for CEOs and other corporate robber barons, it will change the economy. That will create an impetus for them to create green business. We also have to get away from consumerism. It really didn't exist, except arguably among the idle rich, before WWII. People bought what they needed, and didn't buy what they didn't need. We've been convinced to base our economy on waste. That's not an economy, it's just stupid. Reduce and reuse first, then recycle. Nothing changes your personal economy like buying old stuff and fixing it, or using it in another way.
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