Saturday, January 31, 2009


Coming home from the Museum of Civilization today, I experienced that wonderful "sunlight gleaming off the pavement into your eyes until you see green spots every time you blink" phenomenon. However, it lead to a realization... your brain registers the same amount of brightness regardless of whether you are seeing with one eye or two. If the brain was a relatively simple input sensor, it would register twice as much light when you were seeing with two eyes as opposed to one. Of course this would make our sight a very different type of thing, and I would suggest would make vision of much less value. But the brain is not simple. On the contrary it is very sophisticated. And to my way of thinking, this sophistication is more evidence that we were designed rather than just being the product of evolution. Of course I could discuss how unlikely it would be for the eyeball and the vision center of the brain to develop simultaneously, but without both structures vision is impossible.

Moral Equivalence in Argument

Regrettably, polite social interaction militates in favour of moral equivalence for members of the political right. The way it works is like this:

The Loony Leftwinger says "It's terrible what Bush did. Thank goodness Obama is the President now!"

The Sensible Rightwinger is thinking, "This is some kind of joke. The Left has been engaging in character assassination for 8 years and now we need to listen to the deification of Obama?" But that's not what he can say. The rules of polite social interaction require the person on the right of the political spectrum to pretend that moral equivalence exists, and to say something like, "I'm sure both men have their strengths and weaknesses."

This would be OK, except for the fact that the same rule doesn't apply to the Left. If someone on the Right says, "I think Bush will go down in history as a great President" the person on the Left is free to jump all over that statement. Moral equivalence does not apply to the Left.

Is this because the Right is more polite? Or is this just one of the unfair biases built into the political system?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What Have We Learned?

What have we learned from this whole Hamas vs. Israel thing?

Land for Peace is a Myth
One of the favourite aphorisms of the Left is that there will be no peace until Israel surrenders land. But we have now learned that this is not true. Israel unilaterally surrendered its settlements in Gaza. Hamas took over and treated this as a great victory. And then Hamas used that land to lob about 6,000 mortar shells and rockets over the border into Israel. No doubt the Left will keep up the pressure on Israel to surrender more land, but we now know that these demands have nothing to do with peace.

Hamas Really Means It
A man named Hitler once wrote a book called Mein Kampf, in which he described what he was going to do. Nobody took him seriously. He couldn’t possibly be serious. But he was. And he kicked off a war that murdered 6 million Jews and perhaps 70 million others before it was over. Hamas is absolutely dedicated to the destruction of Israel. Now we know this. They will break a 3 hour humanitarian ceasefire. They will fire rockets from school yards. They will shoot from U.N. compounds. They will hide weapons in mosques. They will move their soldiers around in ambulances. They will hide behind women and children. And they are 100% serious when they say they want to drive the Jews into the sea. Hamas might seem radical, but they really mean what they say.

Don’t Trust the Press or the U.N.
Neither the main stream media nor the U.N. can be trusted to be impartial in this conflict. From staged scenes for the T.V. media to broken U.N. promises to investigate shooting from U.N. compounds, these two agencies are no longer credible.

Anti-Semitism is Alive and Well
Supporters of Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, can march through the streets shouting “death to the Jews” and governments around the world turn a blind eye. More chilling is the video footage of German police breaking into a private apartment to remove an Israeli flag from a window, rather than risk the anti-Semitic terror supporters getting more violent. I was talking to a friend last night and he was right; the incredible hatred being shown against the Jews must be supernatural. There is an active malevolent power in this universe that is ultimately behind anti-Semitism.

Human Rights Commissions are a Farce
The various Canadian Human Rights Commissions are a farce. They are brave when taking on some isolated Christian Pastor, but when the crowds get fired up and chant “death to the Jews” the HRC’s are absent.

The Palestinians are Hurting
I have no idea how many Palestinians have been killed or wounded in this conflict. The current quoted number is 800 killed, but honestly, who can trust that number? But whether the number is 800 or just 10% of that number, I have no doubt the Palestinians are suffering. They have been victims of their own governments (whether the corrupt guys or the fanatics), their own political disunity, their own tendency to shoot themselves in the foot, the Arab governments around Israel who refuse to let them settle, and the hatred in their own hearts. I don’t blame them for the hatred. If I had suffered the same way I would probably hate too. And I would be looking for someone to blame. But acting out of hatred will not end their suffering. Someone among the Palestinian people themselves must step up to provide honest, competent and moderate government, and the Palestinians themselves must follow such a man. This is a huge leap, and historically few peoples have been able to overcome hatred and build a lasting peace. The Palestinians have suffered for half a century. Hopefully the next half a century will be better for them. I really hope so. I have a lot more sympathy for the Palestinians than you realize.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I saw a clip from CNN today. It was a video of a 12 year old child brought to a hospital in Gaza. The boy's older brother was a freelance photographer and got the call to come home because his brother had been killed by an Israeli bomb. The CNN anchor warned that the clip was heart wrenching, and it was. Or at least it would have been if it wasn't a fake.

It was quite obvious that the two doctors who were performing CPR on the boy were faking it. And that makes me wonder how much more of it was faked. Because of the faked CPR, I have no idea of whether any child was actually harmed or killed on that day. Unfortunately it goes to show how little we can trust the majority of the main stream media.

It is well known that much of the imagery coming out of Gaza (and Southern Lebanon a couple of years ago) was faked. Photographic evidence shows that many of the "atrocities" were staged, complete with Directors showing what camera angles to use and calling for second takes. In the long run I have to believe that this will hurt the Palestinian people. Right now they are able to gain sympathy through a wide variety of faked images, but eventually people will wise up. And when they do wise up, there won't be any sympathy left even when the Palestinians are suffering. When you cry wolf one too many times, people stop believing you.

But let's stop for a moment to think about the main stream media. Why are they publishing so many faked images? I can think of several reasons:
  1. many of the images come from freelance Palestinians, who only make money if they can show something dramatic. Furthermore, they are able to support the Palestinian cause by showing something sensational (even if it is faked).
  2. the media makes money on the dramatic, so there is little incentive to sort out the real from the fake (well, little incentive except your own integrity).
  3. producing dramatic pictures boosts a journalists career. Remember the photograph from Vietnam of the police chief executing a civilian in cold blood? It got the photographer a Pulitzer Prize. Too bad nobody pointed out at the time that the "civilian" was a North Vietnamese Army officer who was caught in civilian disguise, and that under those circumstances summary execution is quite acceptable.
  4. many in the media support the Palestinian cause, and think that any means are justified in helping the Palestinian people (even at the cost of truth). This will come back to hurt the Palestinian cause. I'm sure Palestinians really are hurting, but how can we know to what degree? After all, we can't trust the media to tell us.
  5. any reporter in Palestine who doesn't play along will be a target for the extremists. Who wants to be the next Daniel Pearl?
  6. antisemitism seems socially acceptable in some countries and among some peoples and political parties. There is a thin veneer of acceptance, but many people seem to have no sense of shock at the mobs marching along screaming "death to the Jews". One would think we would have learned this lesson after World War Two, but I guess not.
  7. nobody in my culture has been trained to think. We accept everything we see uncritically. And we can't imagine that anyone would ever lie to us. Of course this makes it very easy for people to lie to us.
All in all, I find this very discouraging. I have very little respect or trust for the main stream media. And they've done it to themselves. But when will the rest of the people in my culture wake up?

Interesting Posting

Someone on Facebook made an interesting comment, which I would like to share and expand (i.e. I don't claim credit for the majority of this thought, but want to add a bit of my own in italics):

"Our society is post-Christian, post-modern, post-historical and post-literate. Post-literate means that even if we could read, we wouldn't understand what we were reading."

Yes, I think this is a good summary of where we are at. A Christian foundation is rapidly disappearing. Now I doubt that the majority of people in my society were ever devout Christians. However a Christian foundation provided a common understanding of reality.

Post-modernism introduces it's own set of insanities, with such lunacy as the denial that truth exists. Post-historical means we not only don't learn lessons from the past but that we don't think the past has any lessons to teach us.

The Post-literate comment was new to me, but I think it was insightful. Most people read very little, unless it is popular trash, a single paragraph summary, or has been dumbed down as so to spoon-feed the reader.

All of this presents challenges for the Christian church. How do you reach out to people with the truth when they look at you blankly and tell you that truth doesn't exist. For that matter, when a person is converted to Christ, they no longer have an instinctive and implicit Christian understanding of reality. They don't all of a sudden have the reading skills required to read and study the Bible.

However... for Christian parents, and especially homeschooling Christian parents, this presents a tremendous opportunity. Because we can train our children to understand and appreciate truth, history, literature and especially the Christian faith. Because this provides a basis for reality and for functioning in the real world, we can give our children a chance to excel in comparison to all the children who are indoctrinated with post-Christian, post-modern, post-historical and post-literate nonsense.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Rush to the Trough

The Canadian Federal Government is planning a huge amount of deficit spending to try to jolt the economy back to life. Unfortunately the prospect of money has every special interest group salivating and putting flurries of press releases explaining that they should get some of that windfall. And you can bet the day after the budget, reporters will be seeking out anyone who didn't get any money to ask them their opinion of the Harper budget. Likewise, the Opposition Parties will be asked their opinion. I assume they will say "Not enough. Wrong priorities. No plan. No hope. Hard right ideology" no matter what Harper does.

So let's see. A student federation is calling for $2.4 billion to be spent on educational infrastructure. Perhaps a worthy cause, but is it likely to jolt the economy? There are calls for more spending on healthcare. Indeed a worthy cause, but is more spending going to put more people to work? Others are calling for Harper to go ahead with the Kelowna Accords with Canada's aboriginal people. Perhaps Kelowna is a good thing, but will it really put more people to work, or is the Left jumping at the opportunity to spend money on their priorities under the guise of helping the economy?

A lot of people share my belief that tax cuts are a good thing for the economy. It puts more money in people's pockets, which has two benefits. First, people can choose to spend that money directly and that is good for the economy. Second, if they use the money to pay down debt or save for the future, it makes them feel better about their overall economic situation, which helps address the confidence problem (when people lose confidence about the future they stop spending, and no amount of government stimulus can overcome this problem). So tax cuts are a good thing.

But tax cuts are not enough. For a number of years I was of the opinion that tax cuts should be focused on the people earning the least. I have (currently) a good job and don't need tax cuts. But then I realized that the people at the bottom of the income scale don't need tax cuts so much as they need opportunity. A guy who is making $20K a year doesn't need a $200 tax cut; what he needs is the economic opportunity to get a job that pays $35K a year.

So, across the board tax cuts can help (provided they don't reintroduce structural deficits). We also need to keep lowering corporate taxes so that companies will set up in Canada. The guy earning $20K a year needs job training so that he can move into a better paying job. And the guy making $100K a year needs more new companies starting up with venture capital to use his existing skills to build world-beating products here in Canada.

A final note on infrastructure. Infrastructure spending is often touted as the panacea. But it won't help if the money is given the projects that will be kicking off 18 months from now. If we are going to deficit spend on infrastructure projects to jolt the economy, the newly available funds need to be applied quickly. Any funding must be applied to projects that can start immediately. Yes, there are some roads that could start immediately, and this sort of spending brings long term benefits to the economy. But in addition, to my way of thinking, money could be spent on repairing social housing. Most of it is falling apart and most municipalities have a list of projects they would like to tackle. A lot of repair companies and small contractors could be put to work within a couple of weeks of additional moneies being provided.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents at 4:02am. 8-)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Growing Up

Tonight my youngest child asked me what I want to be when I grow up. Obviously a question that is on the minds of children and young adults. Even a young child thinks about such things. But just as obviously, it isn't a practical question for someone my age. I'm past the big "four-oh", I have a job, and I really can't afford to start over on something else. Once upon a time I had a dream, but I didn't have the grades or diligence to pursue it. Then I had another dream, but I ran out of steam after 8 years in university. Finally I had a third dream, but the legitimate responsibilities of life meant it was impossible. So here I am. I am grown up. I have a good job and I would like to think I'm reasonably good at it. I have much to be thankful for. But I wish my children wouldn't ask me what my dreams are, because I don't have a lot of dreams left. That isn't a tragedy; it's just reality.