Quote of the Semester

Well, actually of a semester a few years ago, but I only ran across it thanks to John V. who sent the link.

A. C. Grayling, (Gaurdian, Nov. 10, 2009)

Aristotle said: “We educate ourselves so that we can make a noble use of our leisure.” The idea that education is for the mind and soul, for the whole person – the citizen, the parent, the voter, the reader, the lover, the traveller, the human being in the round – is lost to view in trying to make university education a mere continuation of school for the same sausage-machine purpose of churning out employees.

I find I agreed with virtually everything Grayling said in the article, including how students should be expected to be more independent in their work.

Need help with assignment of university? We got the big amount of cheating skills!

Photo taken by my friends John and Lisa at the Student Union Building at the University of Lethbridge Campus.

Its a bit out of focus, sorry about that.

The semester is on full flow and probably you are taking overhead pressure of assignments. It’s hard for you to complete the assignments as well as work for the tuitions and livings.

We have come up to your support. Our motto is to complete your assignments which you find difficult within your reach for a small amount of fees.

Be a part of the reputed world’s first assignment completion website. We’ve stepped to Lethbridge.

Woot! If this is a sample of the quality of their work, I can fail the students for their English even if I don’t catch them cheating  (and fail them for that!). The “reputed world’s” first such service! I wonder if the REAL world has anything comparable?

Their website seems to have changed a bit over the course of a few hours, but here is what I pulled from it as of 2:48 Friday, Feb. 11 (Mountain Time).

Welcome to the worlds  first assignment completion website. This venture is constructed focussing the university and college students. Very often these young minds have to take the overhead pressure of assignments. Its hard for these young friends to complete the assignments as well has to work for their livings. They don’t find any helping hand for this support.

We have come up with this support. We have the motto to help our young friends regarding any assignment which he/she feels difficult within our reach and as well complete his/her graduation successfully.

Let me suggest a new motto:

Assignmentsdue.com, where you get what you deserve…

Why is Jim West such a curmudgeon?

Could it be that he is simply misunderstood?

Inquiring minds  would rather NOT know!

Hot Air about the Ice Age: More Silly Climate Denial

A couple of days ago I posted on some silly anti-climate change comment in the Lethbridge Herald.

Today the debate which had been running in the readers’ letters page for the past little while and to which my friend Dan added a “Public Professor” column last Saturday, continued.

First, a rather sensible Stephen McGlenn went after Big Oil and defended the IPCC’s integrity from attacks by two previous letter writers. An excerpt:

The disappointingly inadequate and unsupported arguments they proclaim seem to be more informed by an anti-intellectual bias and ingrained distrust of climate scientists. Where does that stem from, may I ask? How do they explain the support of the IPCC from institutions like NASA, the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, the Canadian Geophysical Union, the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Canadian Society of Soil Science, the Canadian Society of Zoologists; need I go on? Please don’t disappoint me with wild and worn-out conspiracy theories of research funding schemes and world government grabs for power. Need I remind them the IPCC is a voluntary organization with only 10 paid staff persons?

But on the same page, this bit of pure GENIUS! (printed in its entirety)

Even if CO2 can be linked to climate change as Mr. Sandilands wants us to believe (Letter to the Editor, Herald, Feb. 2), worldwide temperature records don’t go back to the last ice age. Many scientists actually believe that the Earth was warmer then than now.
OK, let’s assume the connection is proven. How many people lived on the Earth 300 years ago? Maybe one or two billion? Now there are three to four times that many. Human beings breathe out CO2. That alone already quadruples the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Who wants to stop breathing to offset what Mr. Sandilands breathes out every day?
David G.


Who the FUCK is suggesting that people stop breathing? Who says the only CO2 in the atmosphere is from humans exhaling?

Dave, this is for you:

Jeez, for the sake of the children, do some READING before you write. Try this:

Unknown Knowns: Far Left Side of the Maple Leafs

Far Left Side: GRRRRREAT!


And I like waffles, too!

Now, when will Toronto win the Stanley Cup? God knows.

Or maybe not.

Maybe that’s an unknown unknown?

I HATE HYMN! He’s meme to me!

Ok, there is a new biblioblogging meme thing going around, and James McGrath tagged me.

Apparently, one is to name their most disliked hymn. I’m an atheist. I should be spoiled for choice. But I’m not.


Well, I’ve heard lots and the vast majority drove me crazy, but I can’t really remember how any of them go. And as for the qualification that the tune has to be in a current hymnal, I’m really borked.

One of the few exceptions to my lack of hymnal literacy is Amazing Grace, and as music goes, I don’t like it, because it is too, well…. bag-pipey… but since I also associate it with my dad’s funeral, it is off-limits for me to publicly denounce. Ironically, some things are sacred, in a non-sacred kind of way.

On a happier note, I  know Swing Low Sweet Chariot, but only because I really like Eric Clapton’s reggae infused version of it.

And then there is  “Jerusalem”, but then that has a Monty Python connection, so it is actually pretty good.

What bugs me about a lot of hymns is the fake KJV language and screwed up word order in lots that I have vague memories of.

Here’s an example I conjoured up on the internet.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

But if I was to pick one it would have to be the one this church I went to for a little while would sing. All about wallowing in blood. I can’t remember how it goes (the human mind tends to block out traumatic, violent experiences). Anyway, I found this online and if it isn’t the same one, it is close:

Are you washed in the blood,
In the soul cleansing blood of the Lamb?
Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Eucharist or Baptism? Bathing in the Blood of the Lamb
Pretty morbid, eh?

I will have to tag 3 others to keep the game going, so I will tag my Mary, who can post here, Steve Wiggins at Sects and Violence, and Neil Godfrey at Vridar.

“Toasting and Roasting” Global Warming and CO2012

Ah, yes, the Lethbridge Herald. Dr. Jim’s local newspaper (with the lousiest delivery reliability on record, but that’s a different story), and home of the Public Professor column started by myself and Dan Johnson, who does enviro-sciency-insect and crop stuff in the Dept. of Geography. The Herald is also home of the “Roasted and Toasted” feature every Monday, which is not online, but would fit in just fine with the rest of the internet.

Reading it is a guilty pleasure,  but as I was telling my lovely Mary (Dr. Jim’s current Better Brain and future Mrs. Dr. Jim) just this morning, it is reassuring to discover just how many dweebs there are in the world. Makes one feel better about oneself, and on a Monday morning, that’s a good thing.

Anyway, it is a perfectly anonymous collection of newpapery tweet-like submissions by readers saying what or who they like or dislike. Most of the “Toasts” go to people who have returned wallets, shovelled neighbour’s sidewalks and the like. Roasts go to bad drivers, lousy restaurants, and various anonymous persons with disgusting habits. Almost all of the roasts feature a shocking lack of detail which makes the complaint pointless. The writer’s name is also withheld, so really, its sort of stupid, just a lot of venting without any accountability or even direction to the spew. But I suppose it makes some people feel good, not to mention empowered behind their wall of anonymity.

Here is a roast from this morning that is pretty representative:

Roast: the RCMP for not patrolling the school zones more often”. There are of course, many more than three school zones in Lethbridge, and the RCMP have no jurisdiction in town anyway, so this is obviously NOT about Lethbridge but one of the outlying towns. But which one? If I was the RCMP officer responsible for policing all the little town around here, how would I know which town needs a better allocation of resources?

But here is the one that really got my attention!

Roast: To all global warming, climate change worry warts. After all, CO2 promotes all plant growth — hence life! But then the doomsday advocates predict the end of the world in 2012 so why waste money with natural phenomena?”

“This”, as they say, “isn’t even wrong”.

So, folks concerned about the climate are to be associated with the 2012 end of the world crowd are they? On the contrary, it is the climate change denier do-nothings who are more analogous to the anti-rational Mayan-prophecy-out-the-ass doom-sayers. And WTF is this CO2 promotes life so it’s good B.S.? Hell, water promotes life too, but tell that the folks who went down on the Titanic! Too much oxygen can kill you as can too much food.


Perhaps the “Roast” was in response to Dan’s Public Professor published on Saturday. Here is the first bit.

Arguments Against Global Warming Hardly Based on Fact

Is a new ice age on the way despite evidence of global warming? Interestingly enough, we may have been on the verge of a new ice age, until it was averted by recent warming. So, a little climate change was not a bad thing, but the current data and the projections indicate that we are about to seriously overdo it. Some people dispute the warming. Is this position based on the facts?

Graphs and articles (mainly from the Internet) have been distributed claiming that historical data shows no warming in recent history, and that present annual temperatures are lower than in the past. I was sent some such graphs recently, and recognized the graphs as being plots of Greenland ice core isotope data used to reconstruct annual average temperatures during the last 50,000 years. Anyone can download this climate data from NOAA (U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). It appears that some have, and then severely misinterpreted it.

When I graphed the data myself, I realized that what the climate change denier author of the “cooling” graph was using as “recent” data ended in the 1800s! This is because ice slowly accumulates from snow. Data of this kind gives the values for 95 years before a “zero” year, and the zero year may be 1950, or another starting point. Recent data (not dependent on ice cores) is collected at weather stations such as at Angmagssalik, Greenland. This weather station shows the same pattern of recent, rapid warming since the 1970s that is found in other weather station records.

But does it matter what one coring site or one weather station tells us? Greenland is not representative of the entire planet surface, and scientists consider the “global” average heat value. Top scientist James Hansen and colleagues recently noted in a 2010 update that the rate of warming has not declined, despite year-to-year fluctuations.

But of course, it is all lost on Mr. Anonymous Know It All.

Dopes for God Busted

According to the Calgary Herald, The Church of the Universe, a religious outfit in Toronto that smoked pot to get get closer to God got busted and the charges stuck. A constitutional defence was made claiming that the law interfered with their religious freedom.

[Superior Court Judge Thea] Herman wrote that while she felt both Styrsky and Kharaghani were sincere in their beliefs about the spiritual power of marijuana, laws against possession and trafficking were reasonable limits on their religious freedoms.

“The limits are proportional because there is no feasible way to make an allowance for the religious use of cannabis in the circumstances of this case,” she wrote, dismissing the pair’s proposal that the government should introduce a licensing system for religions that find spiritual meaning in smoking weed, such as Rastafarianism.

Further, she felt that the church’s membership process, in which followers signed a single-line declaration of faith and paid a small fee, was open to abuse by those with less-than-holy ambitions.

Well, good for the judge I say. The issue here is NOT whether pot should or should not be legalized but , given that it is illegal, whether some people should get exemptions from the law on religious grounds. Needless to say, I don’t thing they should.


From Damned if God exists

Religion’s privilege status is wholly unjustified. Why should a legal system validate dope smoking to get in touch with a god and not just to have a damn good time after a stressful day?

Of course, exemptions for medical purposes is another thing entirely. Many medicines are strictly controlled and marijuana should be as well, controlled and yet available for those who can really benefit from its medicinal properties.

Another Biblical Lolcat


Vote for my kitteh!

The “Cargo” Aliens Would Bring and the “Cargo” Creationists And The Woo Merchants Import

Beginning with a reference to the sci-fi show V in which the aliens visit the Vatican, James McGrath ruminates on the impact of aliens actually landing on earth.

Indeed, a useful warning for such a circumstance is found in the cargo cults of Melanesia. Not that it is likely that most people alive in the world today would react to the arrival of extraterrestrials in a manner very similar to the way Pacific islanders reacted to the arrival of a Western military presence. But what we surely would do is interpret the actions and motives of the aliens in light of our own human thinking and customs. Organisms that evolved independently of Earth’s life would, however, inevitably think and act in ways that we would misinterpret more badly than any example of human-to-human cross-cultural misunderstanding could compare with.

I’ve posted a few things about “Cargo Cults” previously, for example, here and I think James’ post needs a bit of a comment.


Barefoot "G.I.'S" tote bamboo "rifles" with scarlet tipped "bayonets." Photo: Paul Raffaele, Smithsonian.com, "In John They Trust". John Frum ritual, Vanuatu.

First off, James’ is right that we would misinterpret alien actions and intensions, and see them in our own terms. However, I do question his claim “not that it is likely that most people alive in the world today would react to the arrival of extraterrestrials in a manner very similar to the way Pacific islanders reacted to the arrival of a Western military presence”. Rather, there would be an awful LOT of people in the “scientific” West manufacturing an awful LOT of spiritual and religious goods to peddle to themselves based on the alien science, technology and the resulting loss of seeing ourselves as the centre of our universe. Hell, westerners often do it when the “alien” technology and hence, resulting social/religious upheaval) has its origins very close to home! As McGrath is well aware, sci-fi often morphs into “religio-fi”. A real alien invasion would get religious awful fast. Even earth based science is interpreted religiously in the West.

Take, for example, “creation science”. The conclusions of astronomy, physics, geology, biology and a host of other sciences have displaced Church teachings from their central position as descriptions of the natural world, its age and the origins of life. As well, religions have lost significant amounts of prestige and political clout. James McGrath is one of the millions of religious folk who have made the transition to a technological and largely secular world with little difficulty, but others have not.


Found at http://quantumnonlinearity.blogspot.com/

Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis fame, at his Shrine of the Cargo Science Cult in Kentucky.

Modern Christian creationism can be understood as something of the same order as cargo cultism, at least in the appropriation of the symbols of the oppressive, colonizing power and its promise of bringing all (new) good things which will restore the colonized prestige and status. Just as the bamboo airplanes could not ever bring the islanders any real cargo, being symbolic, ritual objects, so too will the appropriated language and symbols of “science” never bring a really coherent, rational understanding of the universe to creationists, regardless of the claims. But they don’t have to. Rather, the appropriation is a claim that despite the appearance of the dominance of science, the “native” religion still is the arbiter of truth.

The “cargo cults” were a study in contradiction. On the one hand, their inventors and practitioners were embracing the desire for foreign and new products which had become culturally important and even necessary for a new social-economic order while defying the cultural ascendancy of their foreign source by claiming that the magic by which the colonials created these goods should be shared with the natives. The cults, then, were attempts to restore the pre-contact and largely egalitarian modes of exchange in the new situation.

Big Valley Parish Church of the Cargo Science Cult

So, too, with creationists. The religion is NOT the Christianity of the pre-sceintific era church. The Christianity of the creationists is very modern. They are not Luddites or Flat Earthers, but employ and enjoy countless technological devices and advances along with a global economy in their own private lives and the lives of their congregations. They are not merely forced to adopt to a “foreign” dominated world, but were born into it themselves and are unlikely to give it up without a major fuss. Yet, their world does not grant its highest status to the believer, and so it must be resisted. And the best way to do that is to fight fire with fire. So, their Christianity has to be not only compatible with science, but must be the ultimate arbiter of “true” science.

Again, the Big Valley Creation Science Museum, which I featured in a post here.

The same could be made of other recent religious movements, including the Church of Woo. For example, Deepak Chopra‘s crap about “Quantum Healing”, which adopts the language of rather advanced physics to a decidedly NON scientific method of “healing” otherwise adopted from an Indian system.

Much of the alternative “energy” healing industry is predicated on adopting “scientific” language to apply as mystical talismans to empower evolved quasi-magical practices. For example, homeopathy. Here is an interested explanation from LAU Science.

Homeopathy is a method of treatment that supports the body’s own healing mechanism. It ‘s based on the law of similars “like cures like”. A homeopathic remedy is an extremely pure, natural substance that has been diluted many times. In large quantities these subtances would cause the same symptoms the patient is trying to cure. In small, pure, diluted doses, it is not only safe and free from side effects, but it will trigger the body to heal itself. Example: Allium cepa is a remedy that is used for watery eyes and runny nose, it is created from red onion. If you’ve cut open a red onion you’ll notice the same symptoms. When the body creates a similar “symptom picture” to Allium cepa and you take a dose of Allium cepa, it activates the body to go about the process of stopping watery eyes and a runny nose.

Ah yes, sympathetic magic! J. G. Frazer is still profitably read these days, it seems! But what the !&@%!$ is a “pure diluted” dose? Oxymoron, anyone?

So, back to my main point. What will happen if the aliens come? Quite obviously, our world will be shaken to its core. We will no longer be masters of our planet. Our technology will seem like kid’s play and people all over the planet will be trying to assimilate the new order to old religious orders and other worldviews, and the result will be a host of new religions including cargo-type cults. We will have “faster than light” healing, inter-dimentional gods will be popping up theologies all over the place, and besides Jesus riding dinosaurs, there will be museums with statues of Jesus riding flying saucers!


And, of course, the aliens will be laughing their heads off at us!

Ah, we just might have a “revelation” that the aliens from space are our own creation. One way or another,however,  they will get into our religions. After all, every religious truth is a human creations, too.

The last oil change: Cylons: revolting robot standins for the alien within.

Now, the free form, word association to which readers of this blog have grown accustomed, if not exactly fond. What is interesting is that Tricia Helfer, seen above and below (with Grace Park, another of Battlestar Gallactica’s Cylons) is from Alberta, home of yours truly. Well, what has that got to do with anything I’ve been talking about above? Well, after you’ve finished studying the heavenly bodies below, I will tell you.

Grace Park as Sharon Valerii, Tricia Helfer as Number Six

So, lets have another Slinky Sci-Fi Babe!

Dawn Chubai is currently does a number of TV shows in Vancouver but she hails from Edmonton, Alberta’s capital . And she is a Slinky Jazz Babe™ with a great album called New Chapters for an Old Book that has a a genuinely slinky version of “Fever”. And she has appeared in some Sci-Fi shows, including a few episodes of Stargate SG-1.

Did I mention she is from Alberta? Oh, and just what is the connection between Cargo Cults and Alberta? I thought you would never ask… Alberta might be the only major political jurisdiction in the democratic world to have been run by a bunch of millenarianst, bat-shit-crazy, conspiracy theorizing looney tunes. To wit, the Social Credit Party. And that sordid period (1930s to early 1970s) in this province’s history (marked by anti-semistism, forced sterilization of mental patients, and laughable family value laws, like bans on airliners serving booze when over Alberta’s airspace), might be understood as a bit of good old Canadian cargo-culting at least according to the linked paper… There, that just about wraps it up.

Religion and Science seem so compatible to some because whatever part of our brain makes us religious just sucks everything into its symbolic world-creating imagination. Yup. religion is the Borg. It just assimilates everything. Can we ever be truly free from it?

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