Thursday, April 30, 2009

Canadian Aboriginals and the Catholic Pope

Sometimes its worthwhile to get a different perspective on an issue at home. In the case of Canadian Aboriginals the story linked to the title, says it all for me. One of the oldest and most out spoken critics of religion is a publication from the United Kingdom (1881) called the freethinker. I could not have said it better, hence the link. The damage to aboriginals around the world by religious missions and missionaries is incalculable. For Canadians who smugly think theirs is a welcoming and multicultural society, well think again. We are still burdened with past racism and the glacial speed at which the problems are being addressed boggles the mind.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Puijila darwini

I would love to hear how Intelligent Design creationists explain this one. Another transitional fossil in the loooooooong list of transitional fossils has been discovered by shear serendipity. A team led by scientists from the Canadian Museum of Nature found the fossil in 2007 during an expedition on Devon Island in Nunavut. While driving an ATV near the Haughton Crater part of the team ran out of gas. To pass the time waiting for assistance Carleton University student Elizabeth Ross starting poking around. She found a small, black bone that she showed to Mary Dawson, Curator Emeritus with the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. They then found the jaw and limb bones spread on the surface and eventually 65% of the creature's bones.....amazing! It was a "seal" with legs not flippers and it was named for the Inuit word for a walking seal and Charles Darwin who predicted that one day such a fossil may be found. A wonderful discovery that will rewrite the books again!

So yes kiddies....all that stuff in the books about evolution looks better and better as we transition from bipedal-dumb-asses to rational Homo sapiens sapiens. Its a trip that some of you will never make if you don't use your head.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word of the Day: Islamofascism

So I'm still busy with bringing my computer back from the dead and doing taxes, also linked with death (there is a joke in there). I couldn't help but to comment on Iran's Jew-hating, Holocaust denying President Mahmoud (Ahmadinejad) Ime-a-nut-job. What is there to say really? Little Mahmoud was the first speaker in the U.N.'s Antiracism Conference or should that be Anti-antiracism Conference. On the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Ime-a-nut-job shows what kind of slimeball he really is, lashing out at Israel and calling Israelis "racist perpetrators of genocide". This of course caused most of the Western nations that were there to walk out. Others, Canada and the U.S. included were clever enough not to attend the conference. Which brings me to the word of the day: Islamofascism and that makes Little Mahmoud an Islamofascist. I'm not going to bore you with definitions or reasons, but if you look at that oily sand hill called the middle east, I believe Israel is the only sliver of dirt in the region that even resembles a democracy. The only place you can get a fair trial and not fear of having an appendage or worse chopped off. The only place where freedom can and does exist - even if it's underpinnings are religious. Israel of all the countries in that region should be the model that the Islamofascists can aspire to. Little Mahmoud should go home to his sandlot and stay there.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Taxing times

I'm back. Its been several weeks, I visited the Inlaws for the "holidays" - not really much of a holiday. During that time though, my computer was in the shop - caught a virus, even with Norton 360. The computer is still not right, but it works.

I'll be pretty busy for the next 11 days or so. I've procrastinated long enough and its time to send off my income tax return, five actually, since I do my family's returns as well. I can't tell you how much I resent spending so much time collecting, collating, organizing, entering, researching and sending off these damned income tax returns. I even use "QuickTax" to NetFile, easy as pie, you'd think. Sure I also resent the myriad government programs that continue to waste our tax money defending Afghans, bailing out zombie car companies, and funding all the boondoggles of every special interest group in this country. I might feel better if I thought our government had spending under control. But Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are continuing with their program of bigger government. In the October election campaign they promised spending increases of $92 billion: literally double even the massive increases promised by the Liberals and the NDP (National Post estimates during the campaign). They delivered on these spending promises, one of the few promises kept, and the extra spending has wasted away the large surplus' inherited from the previous Liberal government. This left Canada facing a deficit even before the current recession. Now Mr. Harper will follow the Americans and "stimulate" with money he no longer has to drive us into a larger and longer term deficit. Fortunately the Harper Conservatives have only been in power a short time, or our economic situation would have been much worse.

So yes I resent the size of government and the waste that I know is ongoing, but I also resent the complexity of the tax form. Why are taxes so complicated?

Income Tax began in Canada in 1917 as a temporary measure to repay the debts incurred during the First World War. Those debts were large and the tax was kept in place after the war, growing and becoming more complex each year. Special interest groups came to Ottawa and lobbied for exemptions and deferrals. Politicians made promises, governments grew larger taking on more responsibility and leaving people with fewer choices and less money to spend. Instead of protecting us from force or fraud the government loots each and every income producing Canadian reducing their discretionary income and freedom. Instead of being a protector government forces you to do its bidding, forces you to do things in your name that you would not ordinarily want to do. Ah, but you have a chance to avoid some of the looting if you jump through all the hoops and look for ways to save your hard earned wealth by completing the income tax form. But for some, it has become so complex that bean-counters must be hired at taxpayers expense to wrestle away some of the loot that has been stolen and get the blessed refund.

Last year The Fraser Institute came up with a postcard sized tax form (10 lines)that most tax filers can use and fill out in 5 minutes. It counts on a 15% flat tax that reduces the unnecessary hoops and makes an already distasteful experience less so. The time is long past for this innovation, the sooner the better and this way there will be fewer things to resent.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Afghan War, the UN and Islam.

Recently I received this email from CFI (Center for Inquiry in Amherst NY):
Last week (March 26/09) the United Nations Human Rights Council has handed another victory to Islamic states in their decade-long push to limit freedom of expression out of “respect” for religious beliefs. A new Council resolution decries a “campaign of defamation of religions” in which “the media” and “extremist organizations” are “perpetuating stereotypes about certain religions and sacred persons,” and urges UN member states to provide redress “within their respective legal and constitutional systems.” Capitalizing on concerns about racial profiling and discrimination in the era of the war on terror, the language conflates criticism of Islam with anti-Muslim bigotry and seeks to stifle peaceful speech in the name of “dialogue” and “diversity.”.....

“The concept of ‘defamation of religions’ is both absurd and dangerous.” said Ronald A. Lindsay, CFI’s president and chief executive officer. “Legally speaking, it’s gibberish, and any ban on so-called ‘defamation’ would effectively prevent any critique of religious beliefs or practices.” In the opinion of a broad range of civil society organizations, these pronouncements do nothing but lend legitimacy to the repression of political and religious dissent around the world, particularly in Islamic countries. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, for example, which carry mandatory sentences of death or life imprisonment, are frequently used against members of the Ahmaddiya community, a peaceful minority Muslim sect.

Through its UN representative, Dr. Austin Dacey, CFI participated in the negotiations over the resolution during the March session of the Council in Geneva, and delivered an oral statement before the plenary meeting on March 24. Most worrisome, according to CFI, is that the present language equates religiously insulting speech with “advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility, or violence,” a category of speech that is prohibited by existing treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which have the force of law. “Now the argument becomes very awkward for Europe,” said Dacey, “since many European states have laws against hate speech, Holocaust denial, and even blasphemy (for example, in Austria) that have been upheld by their regional human rights courts. The Islamic states will say they simply want to extend the same protection to all beliefs.”

Yes its true that the above resolution has no "teeth", but ask Salman Rushdie about the "fatwa" that was issued against him 20 years ago. Did he fear for his life? In light of the above, the recent news of the "Talibanization" of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is troubling. Karzai approved a new Afghan law that effectively removes the rights of girls and women (as per orthodox Islamic law) including the legalization of rape within marriage. So this is what Canadian and NATO troops are fighting to uphold in Afghanistan. This is the democracy that has cost Canada over 100 lives and billions of dollars.

So lets see, to criticize the Muslim faith is blasphemy, and to fight for the Afghans so that they may practice their own form of democracy which is repugnant to us what we are doing. Dumb eh?

Do we need another excuse to say goodbye and good riddance to Afghanistan? I think its past time to cut our losses and bring the troops home, and by the way, it may be time to rethink our membership in the UN, as blasphemous as that sounds.

One last though. Its interesting that in recent weeks both Harper and Obama have been talking less about winning in Afghanistan and more about keeping the lid on it. Do you think that Karzai sees the writing on the wall and it may be time for him to warm up to the Taliban in order to survive after the good guys have left? This is realpolitik in action.