Category Archives: Opinions

Never Trust Your Memories

I just had the most fascinating experience of falling down the stairs today.

Ice storms have ripped through my city, and as I stepped out the front door to have a smoke, my feet shot out from under me and down the stairs I went. While no bones cracked, they certainly creaked, and I have spent the rest of the day sleeping and healing up, leaving me with a lot of time to think about my experience.

I remember it vividly:

  1. Opened the door, noticed ice.
  2. Felt the deck and confirmed it was slippery
  3. Brought my second foot out and onto the deck.
  4. As soon as my second foot met my first, the momentum of my feet just carried them down the steps.
  5. I watched my feet go down the steps
  6. I reached out for something to grab onto (nothing but air)
  7. I felt my back meet the last step (with a thud, something other than air)
  8. I watched my heels dig two ruts into the sod at the bottom of the stairs.
  9. I remember not being able to breath, and getting up in the hopes it would allow me to breath easier (it didn’t)
  10. The wife opening the door and peering out to see what the sound was. (I distinctly remember waving her back inside, as I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs to yell to her)

Very scary, very stretched out, and very vivid; but also not real.

Note steps 6 and 10, they contradict one another. I remember stepping out, and reaching for something to hold onto; I even have scrapes on my hands where they finally slammed into the decking; but if the door had been open (it opens outward), and I had been standing in the doorway, I would have had something to hold onto. Also, I was totally cognisant of The Wife opening the door, and me panicking that she would get injured coming out to find me. She knows she had to open the door, also she would have heard more clearly if the door had been opened.

I must have closed the door before slipping.

I must have closed the door, but I distinctly remember not closing it.

The Wife and I have discussed false memories in the past, and this experience serves to remind me that we cannot trust even our own experiences and memories. It reminds me that we must always test, verify, and approach life with a healthy dose of scepticism, because the easiest person to fool is yourself.

It also reminds me to salt the steps prior to an ice storm, and to keep an adequate supply of Ibuprofen in the house.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_memory

 

Apex Predators

http://imgur.com/gallery/ASyumRs

It’s funny how science fiction universes so often treat humans as a boring, default everyman species, or even the weakest and dumbest.

I want to see a sci-fi universe where we’re actually considered one of the more hideous and terrifying species.

How do we know our saliva and skin oils wouldn’t be ultra-corrosive to most other sapient races? What if we actually have the strongest vocal chords and can paralyse or kill the inhabitants of other worlds just by screaming at them? What if most sentient life in the universe turns out to be vegetable-line and lives in fear of us rare “animal” races who can move so quickly and chew shit up with our teeth?

Like that old story “they’re made of meat”, only we’re scarier.


More seriously, humans do have a number of advantages even among Terrestrial life. Our endurance, shock resistance, and ability to recover from injury is absurdly high compared to almost any other animal. We often use the phrase “healthy as a horse” to connote heartiness – but compared to a human a horse is as fragile as spun glass. There’s mounting evidence that our primitive ancestors would hunt large prey simply by following it at a walking pace, without sleep or rest, until it died of exhaustion; it’s called pursuit predation. Basically, we’re the Terminator.

(The only other animal that can sort of keep up with us? Dogs. That’s why we use them for hunting. And even then, it’s only “sort of”.)

Now extrapolate that to a galaxy in which most sapient life did *not* evolve from hyper-specialised pursuit predators:

  • Our strength and speed is nothing to write home about, but we don’t need to overpower or outrun you. We just need to outlast you – and by any other species’ standards, we just plain don’t get tired.
  • Where a simple broken leg will cause most species to go into schock and die, we can recover from virtually any injury that’s not immediately fatal. Even traumatic dismemberment isn’t necessarily a career-ending injury for a human.
  • We heal from injuries with extreme rapidity, recovering in weeks from wounds that would take others months or years to heal. The results aren’t pretty – humans have hyperactive scar tissue, amount our other survival-oriented traits – but they’re highly functional.
  • Speaking of scarring, look at our medical science. We developed surgery centuries before developing even themost rudimentary anesthetics or life support. In extermis, humans have been known to perform surgery *on themselves* – and survive. Thanks to our exterme heartiness, we regard as routine medical procedures what most other species would regard as inventive forms of murder. We even perform radical surgery on ourselves for purely cosmetic reasons.
  • and by god, we will eat anything

In essence, we’d be Space Orcs.

It’s one ting to face down a cheetah, which will slam into you at 60 mph and break your neck.

It’s another thing to run very quickly to get away from a thing, only to have it just kind of

show up

to have it be intelligent enough to figure out where you are going to be, just by the fur and feather you’ve left behind, your footprints and piss and shit, and then you think you’ve lost it,y ou bed down for the night, and

there it is

waiting

so you split! but it keeps following you, always in the corner of your eye, until you just can’t go on, until you just can’t go on any more, and give up, and

die

We are scary motherfuckers

 

False Specter of Racism

Which States Sent the Most Racist Tweets After the Election

The article concludes that the Southern States are the most racist. However, if you actually look at the map, you will notice that the distribution seems pretty even. There are a lot of dark green spots on the along the Canadian border, a lot darker than say… Texas.

The clearest evidence that the author is trying to raise a false specter comes from this comment:

Southern states have the highest proportion of African-Americans in the country. A good number of the Tweets containing the keywords came from them, and were sent in solidarity rather than with racist intentions.

So the author states that there is a benign explanation, only to follow it up with this:

Choose your own explanation! Each one is super-depressing

How is a benign explanation that does away with the racism “super depressing”? That explanation is surely what we would hope happened, and not have to worry about racism.

Then we come across this statement that explains everything:

And again: Minnesota, Oregon, what the hell, guys?

Ahh… the author acknowledges that the Northern states have as much racism, but also that he doesn’t want it to be true. It fits with the authors prejudices that the South is full of racists and therefore any evidence to support that will be highlighted, any evidence to the contrary (even when its his own) will be downplayed, and any evidence that doesn’t fit his nice little world-view (like Minnesota and North Dakota) will be treated as outliers.

My guess: the author wants there to be racism to justify his own sense of self-righteousness.

Choose your own explanation for this authors motives, everyone I’ve come up with is super depressing.

 

811 Celebrating Third Year – of harm

More than 130,000 Nova Scotians received health care advice from registered nurses by dialing 811 this past year.

As part of Nova Scotia’s Better Care Sooner plan, 811 is helping to ease pressure at emergency rooms around the province. Nearly half of all callers received instructions on how to treat their symptoms or illnesses at home and were provided with self-care advice. Around 30 per cent of callers were advised to make an appointment with a primary care provider within 48 hours.

Trusted Health Resource 811 Celebrating Third Year

Nova Scotia may be celebrating 811, their dial in health advisory. Unfortunately, I question the quality of advice given to the 130,000 people served. My wife and I recently had reason to call the 811 service and were disturbed by the advice given.

A bat had been in our house and woke us. After chasing the bat out, we started doing some casual online reading and were startled to see several US States recommending immediate treatment for rabies. Unfortunately, bats carry rabies, and you may not be aware you were bitten.

We called the 811 service to determine if rabies is a problem in Nova Scotia; and if so, how we should proceed to be tested and treated. The 811 nurse’s response shocked us: “I don’t think bats carry rabies”; “you would know if you were bitten”. Upon telling her of resources that stated otherwise she instructed us to “not go to the hospital unless you develop symptoms”.

One of the things, both my wife and I remember from our days as nursing students is that rabies is a bad condition. Early treatment is necessary, by the time you develop symptoms, it is too late to save your life. That a medical “professional” would suggest waiting, in a suspected rabies case, told us to seek our advice elsewhere.

While talking to the nurse, my wife became suspicious that the woman was not even located in Nova Scotia. The nurse kept asking if we were located in Nova Scotia, or to contact the forestry department in “Nova Scotia”. Why would an employee in NS, offering an NS service, to people in NS, keep mentioning NS? Nor could she offer us contact information for the government departments she was referring us to? In fact she suggest talking to the “forestry department”, not knowing it is called the Department of Natural Resources.

In the end, the 811 service gave us dangerously inacurate advice, and then directed us to go seek help elsewhere… not really specify where. Nova Scotians are not being well served by the 811 service. In fact, if our case is any example, the service is putting people in danger.

I suppose dying at home would “ease pressure at emergency rooms around the province”.

Politicizing Temporary Foreign Workers

The government cannot in good conscience continue to admit temporary foreign workers to work in businesses in sectors where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a risk of sexual exploitation They’re destroying the industry by creating a labor shortage
– Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism – Adult Entertainment Association of Canada

Canada Bans Foreign Strippers

… and I’m fairly certain neither of them are giving a straight answer.

Continue reading Politicizing Temporary Foreign Workers

My Email to Peggy Nash

I just sent the following email

To:   Peggy Nash
CC:   Jim Flaherty
Subject: Statements to Flaherty

I recently read an article on CBC regarding a debate between yourself and Flaherty, in which you stated:

If you are a computer software developer, will you be working at Tim Hortons? If you are an unemployed teacher or nurse, will you be working in the agricultural sector picking fruit?

Ironically, my personal life has taken on many elements of the examples used in this debate. I am an experienced Software Developer that has moved across the country to find work. , I am currently employed as a farm labourer, because Tim Hortons would not return my calls after my second interview.

Continue reading My Email to Peggy Nash

Sam Harris is a Scary Man

Sam Harris is a Neuroscientist who actively advocates for a scientific approach to Morality.

I recently watched a presentation by Mr. Harris that he gave at TED entitled “Science Can Answer Moral Questions”. While I agree with his overall point, I am somewhat disturbed by the techniques and examples used to sell his ideologie to the audience.

Mr. Harris is one of those individuals to whom the end justifies the means, or perhaps truth is not allowed to get in the way of The Truth (aka His Truth).

Continue reading Sam Harris is a Scary Man

Global Warming: And Nothing Happened

I’ve been reading a lot of Global Warming articles over the last few days, and suddenly a few events over the last few years coalesced for me:

  • Woman goes hysterical at a town hall meeting. The meeting is regarding what regulations the town should enact around Windmills. The woman get’s up and literally says, “We are all going to drown, but that’s no reason to stop trying”.
  • I read an article1 pointing to the inaccuracy of the Global Warming climate models that people are panicking about
  • I recently moved to a coastal region, I began to sarcastically wonder if I would ever get an ocean view
  • The Government of Nova Scotia recently announced more programs to determine how its going to adapt to rising waters.

This got me thinking. Surely someone has used Google Earth to plot this out. It would be a simple matter of activating terrain, and putting a blue surface at whatever the future sea level was predicted to be. Sure enough someone has.

Continue reading Global Warming: And Nothing Happened


  1. I thought it was Jeffrey Tucker, but I can’t find the reference anymore. I swear it was about two weeks ago, and it discussed the feedback mechanisms involved. This one references the same data

Response to Bill C-10 Video

A friend of mine recently posted this video on Facebook. As I am currently boycotting Facebook, I have to bitch about it here:

I’m no fan of minimum sentencing, I think it is a terrible idea. But, that video had some pretty seriously flawed arguments. If people are basing their decision, that Bill C-10 is a bad idea, on the consumption of media such as this video; I’m thinking its time to start looking for a nice place in the mountains to hide until the madness blows over.

Continue reading Response to Bill C-10 Video

This Thing We Call Science

I recently read the article “Independent, skeptic climate change study finds global warming is real” from ZME Science.

So even this open source study … finds that global warming is a major issue, you would expect people to just back off and admit they were wrong, right? I mean, if I root for something, and my own people show me I’m wrong, I admit I’m wrong and that’s that. Nope, this is not the case. You can still expect people to deny climate change in an almost pathological fashion, you can still expect people to ignore the evidence and we still have a lot to wait for real, global measures against global warming to take place. This is the wonderful world we live in; hopefully, by the time people are convinced, it won’t be too late.

This is some fairly charged rhetoric for a “science” ‘zine! Language such as “pathological fashion” are clearly ad hominum attacks on skeptics.

Continue reading This Thing We Call Science