Friday, September 03, 2010

Sherman's lagoon

Another of the very valuable "TED" talks.  This one is Jim Toomey, the cartoonist, telling folks the message of his strip "Sherman's Lagoon".

He describes the ocean as a great dark place in which you find yourself, and all you have is a hammer.  You feel around, and find a big lump of something, and you break off a piece with your hammer, and when you find yourself at the door, you find it is a nice big lump of alabaster. Alabaster has some value, so you go back in, and get more.  Eventually, it comes to you that you should get some light on what you are breaking, and when you turn on the lights, you find that you have been breaking priceless statues in the Louvre.  

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Julian Assange

The wiki-leaks are in the news big time this week.

The controversial website WikiLeaks collects and posts highly classified documents and video. Founder Julian Assange, who's reportedly being sought for questioning by US authorities, talks to TED's Chris Anderson about how the site operates, what it has accomplished -- and what drives him. The interview includes graphic footage of a recent US airstrike in Baghdad.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MMR vaccines


USA today...

Public health....

News stories.

Ontario Ministry of Health

How to avoid it.

Time line and graphs.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

PETA kills animals.

Pamela Anderson is in the news yet again. Guess her career was sagging, so she put up a big poster to show that was the only thing sagging! Oh well. No doubt that she is a seriously good looking lady.

However, I do not have much time for PETA. I like vegetarians...(they go well with the mashed potatoes) but I really have no use for most militants, and PETA is right up there on the list of "Stupid Militant Groups".

In PETA's case, it is the blatant hypocracy. They run animal shelters but never allow adoptions.

There is a web site which says it better than I.

(cut and paste from the web site.)

Hypocrisy is the mother of all credibility problems, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has it in spades. While loudly complaining about the "unethical" treatment of animals by restaurant owners, grocers, farmers, scientists, anglers, and countless other Americans, the group has its own dirty little secret.

PETA kills animals. By the thousands.

From July 1998 through December 2009, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) killed over 23,000 dogs, cats, and other "companion animals." That's more than five defenseless creatures every day. PETA has a walk-in freezer to store the dead bodies, and contracts with a Virginia Beach company to cremate them.

Not counting the pets PETA spayed and neutered, the group put to death over 90 percent of the animals it took in during the last five years. And its angel-of-death pattern shows no sign of changing.

cut and paste ends....

I know...a very controvercial stance I seem to be taking here. But hey, this IS my RANT blog! There are several anti-peta web sites out there, and this one seems to have its facts straight.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Counter Protests.

Seems the Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster (Pastafarians) have been doing counter demonstrations against the Westboro Baptist Church.

And a WEIRD time was had by all....

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The anti-vax movement.

In a not so very different and not so far away world, on a beautiful little farm in Eastern Saskatchewan, my father's sister woke up unable to scream because of an attack of Polio. Nobody knew where it came from, they were pretty isolated way out there on the prairies. A contaminated bird perhaps, a Canada Goose coming back from the southern States, alighting down in the garden. Who knows. My auntie was one of thousands who suddenly ended up in Iron Lungs during the early fifties.
Unlike dozens of her classmates, she is still alive...her body regenerated enough to lay in new muscle over the old and was actually able to come off the machines a year or so later. A lifetime of physio therapy followed but the "new" muscle is not as long lasting as the old stuff. She is in the nursing home now, but all my life when we would go to visit her, she would ask us kids "how are you", and "have you got all your shots?"
Out there, in post war Saskatchewan, they got complacent you see. The chicken pox had never made a visit, the flu was pretty much unknown, and most plagues were found only in the newspaper. Nobody vaccinated for anything. Then the plague horseman visited and everything changed. Most especially attitudes.

So you can see that I have an attitude that vaccinations against "whatever" are by and large a "good thing". I got the H1N1 shot before I traveled to Europe, and wish I could have gotten the seasonal flue vaccine in time to fly because I think I picked up some sort of lung rot a month later which left me coughing for two weeks in Cyprus. (I might not have been the exact one...but I find that colds and flu's are less intense when I have had a shot. Anectdotal evidence of questionable value I know....grin!....but it all I have.)

My friend Shayne is a brand new father, and I am scared to come close to the new baby because there is a residual tickle in the bottom of my lungs even now, two months later, that resulted in a four day relapse. Maybe it was just a common cold. I took precautions though, and I took them because I was flying through five countries through four different airlines, all of which you have to get there by spending literally hours in a cabin crowded with strangers. The wonder is that I didn't get the "hack" from the plane, but probably from a guy coughing up a lung behind me on the train in England! But I also took precautions because I felt that as a teacher, it was my duty. My duty? Well there are young kids at the schools I teach at, and I felt if I got the shots against the flue, at least I would not bear the responsibility of passing on the flue to the kids.

There is an anti-vaccination "movement" which seems to be trying to limit and possibly eliminate vaccines of any kind in the the world today. A very old friend with a brilliant mind sent me a viral video of a nice lady claiming to be the former minister of health of Denmark and in her interview she stated that the vaccine was far more dangerous than the disease. Her dire prediction was that thousands would die from the innoculation, more likely millions. I can find that video if any of my readers actually want me to dig it up, but I shall confine myself to a general commentary. This is only a blog after all. But I am not playing devils' advocate just to get a reaction like some folks do!
Well lets see...the UN called it a pan-demic. Which means it was everywhere. You could not hide from it like I hide from, say, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Government agencies monitored the disease. It targeted (that means it killed) healthy folks rather than the young and the elderly. The elderly seem to not get it because they had a residual immunity from when it went through the population years ago, but when they did get it it targeted them too. (that means it killed them too.) Youngsters got it, just like they get any flu, and natural resilience seems to have kept a lot of them alive (although in severe agony as this virus scarred its way across the delicate small lungs.) News reports are repleate with the "news" that the vaccine is unsafe. This report is a fine example. They point out at least that the term "unsafe" is a relative term. That more people died (per thousand) from Hernias than died from the H1N1 vaccine.
A casual google search for HiN1 deaths from Vaccine will reveal thousands of fluff news reports. Discard any news report which starts off with "parents worried about". We are after facts here... That leaves, what a dozen or so reports with some substance. All of which put the risk of getting hurt from the vaccine as considerably less likely than slipping and falling in the bathtub. Though you know, it just "may" be a little riskier than getting your regular seasonal flu vaccine. I suspect the salt in the Ramen Noodles I will be having for lunch today is a much greater risk! But lets not get carried away here, lets stick to the topic!

Back in November, we had 115 H1N1 deaths and then everybody in Canada got vaccinated. Since then, there have been no more deaths from H1N1 than we would have got from the regular seasonal flu. There is a good chart here and I urge anybody who has read this far down to visit that site. In case the link isn't working, here it is written out in clear.

So, we gonna say..."gee, there was no epidemic so I guess we didn't need to get those vaccinations after all eh?" To do so would be to fly in the face of clear evidence to the contrary...we were clearly heading into an epidemic situation, and the fact that so many people got the vaccine simply means that the epidemic was stopped in its tracks. Not just dodged, or avoided, it was STOPPED!
So were we sheep to get the vaccine? Yes. But we are well taken care of sheep! By the time we would have had the town hall debates, and all the facts would have been in, we would have looked back on it and said "damn, we fiddled while Rome burned!" Was it an over-reaction? Ask any of the parents of the 151 people who died before the vaccine kicked in. I don't think it was an over-reaction. Did it turn out that more people died from the seasonal flu than died from H1N1? Well, maybe, but who cares. Thats not relevant.

What kills Americans? Obesity. Salt. Automobiles. maye even the Seasonal Flu. Not the guvumint and most especially, NOT VACCINES.

I started this rant talking about my Anti Beth, who spent time in an Iron Lung as a child. I hear that the same sort of anti-vaccination rhetoric as we saw with the H1N1 shot is being spouted about common inoculations such as everybody "used to get" when we were growing up. This has resulted in a resurgence of measles. This chart shows his clearly....the result of the untiring efforts of a single man who was trying to start a business promoting a food supplement which would replace the measles vaccine. Andrew Wakefield's study has been discredited, and he is facing severe disciplinary action. The anti-vax movement was largely started in response to this original study, and just because it has been discredited does not make the well meaning fools go away. I regard Jenny McCarthy, the most high profile spokeswoman of the anti-vax movement as a well meaning fool, because the only alternative is that she is an evil person who loves to see suffering.

This is not a new problem....the anti-vax movment has been stirring up shit for as long as I can remember. The silicone sister even has her own web site spouting to the world that vaccinations caused autism in her " crystal child". Oh my Lord, give me the strength to forgive...
(Nope, don't have that strength.)

Then of course, the anti-government people have to weigh in on it. "The guvinment want it so it must be bad!" My take on that is that every farmer with a herd of cattle riddled with brucelosis or cancer will tell you he doesn't want to see the government inspector at the sale barn. If you can't be arsed to get your milk pasturized, you got no business selling it to me and my children. And if you won't get your kids vaccinated, then for gosh sakes, keep them out of my school!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Global Warming

I have NEVER in my life seen such a divisive issue as climate change! Perfectly sane and normal people go off on wild tangents, and "make their minds up" with fervor normally reserved for religious experiences. I could make an entire post based on this "yes it is, no it isn't" phenomon.

Here is a lecture by James Balog. He is an artist, not some white lab coat with a political agenda. So, because he is an artist, he has a unique approach to the topic. He doesn't sit in his office, and look at computer models. He goes out to glaciers, and looks at them. And watches them collapse. And photographs them with time lapse photography.

Why not take twenty minutes of your life and examine this one. At the very least, you will see some pretty pictures....

Of course, not all scientists are dweebs, Rachel Pike is really cute. Her talk is only four minutes....and worth a watch if only to watch her boobs bounce. However, it is worth the talk just so we can see just what goes into the scientific conclusions that so many people so blithly throw out.

With that kind of background and work which goes into it, how can you dismiss it as a political football? The problem is that it is so narrowly focused that you can't really argue for or against it, however I think I will listen more closely to the conclusions of the Rachel Pikes of the world than, oh, I don't know...say, Jesse Ventura?

Jesse Ventura. THERE's a guy that inspires confidence. Get real! Him and Tom Cruise! Millstones around the neck of the truth, both of them! Lord give me strength!

Anyway, I have no intention of changing YOUR mind. No doubt your mind is made up. As were the commenters on James Balog's talk above...I kept asking myself..."did they even listen to the talk or are they just sounding off with their own ideas like trained seals"? Me, I might well be the only person left on the planet who doesn't give a shit about global warming...I would just like to see less smoke in the air, so I think I come down on the side of the scientists. My real concern is Resource Wars resulting from climate change, such as you are finding in Darfur. And I do have to admit to a desire to be a friend to the Earth.

My hero is Stewart Brand. You might remember him, he invented and published the "Whole Earth Catalogue" back in the '60s. He was the original hippie! He has always stepped to a different drummer. Nobody every said he was stupid, but he sometimes seems to be in the business of pissing off as many people as possible.
I even found a talk by him in the TED site.....again, its only 20 minutes. I think you might find him to be breath of fresh air. Whenever I get depressed, I find something that Stewart wrote somewhere, sometime, and realize that I am not powerless to change anything. Treat yourself to a most refreshing lecture, ignore the Al Gores of the world, and watch a talk by a genuine human being....Stewart Brand. This lecture is the one that got him into so much trouble with the environmental there is more here than meets the eye.

Let me know your thoughts on this.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Urban Legends

Lately, I have been getting some fascinating forwards in my email box. A quick jump over to "" often helps to get the skinny on these stories. Some are "well, what difference does it make", and others are ridiculous "Oh my god, that means that the leader of the Illluminati is hiding in my underwear drawer", and some are outright lies..."Oliver North's testimony was that he installed an expensive security system on his house because he was scared of Osama Bin Laden".

In this world of instant communication, Churchill's phrase "A lie goes around the world before the truth can get its trousers on" is demonstrated daily. I personally don't like lies....even little white lies, because I figure if whoever sent me a lie about "that" (whatever "that" might be) always must then face the question, "If you lie to me about "that", then what else are you lying to me about?"

One is reminded watching the Montreal Rally and the pictures of St. Catherine Street clearly filled with thousands of demonstrators, and the reporters saying "as many as two hundred people are in the street waving plaquards". I was yelling at the screen "TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE....ARE YOU NUTS." and in fact, some of my "on the fence" Quebecois friends were watching that, and they too were struck with the obvious fact that the news guy was lying, and they too were wondering "if they are lying about numbers of demonstrators, what ELSE are they lying about?" So when you get caught out in a lie, you lose all credibility. Many of my friends made up their mind then and there to vote against the separation because they suddenly didn't trust the people who would suddenly be in charge!

As for "its more fun to just send them out"....well, I would not mind if they were simple "Thank you for being my friend" cards (though I am always struck by the fact that if I was such a great friend, then why don't you take a moment to tell me personally instead of sending a forward out on a distribution list, but still, they are nice to get.) but many of the items I see forwarded to my email box seem to be politically motivated, and some seem to come perilously close to resembling hate mail.
Even then, the distribution of political texts is a fine and noble exercise in free speech. The article about Oliver North is not particularly political, but rather a little inflammatory, and was a fine example of what I regard as "False History". If anyone feels that there is no harm in "False History", I merely point them to a pre war publication called "The Chonicles of Zion".

Anyway, on that note, I shall leave you with my very best wishes and that I hope that you and your family will prosper in the coming year.

Bill Fedun

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Save the World....

THE YES MEN FIX THE WORLD is a screwball true story about two gonzo political activists who, posing as top executives of giant corporations, lie their way into big business conferences and pull off the world's most outrageous pranks.

From New Orleans to India to New York City, armed with little more than cheap thrift-store suits, the Yes Men squeeze raucous comedy out of all the ways that corporate greed is destroying the planet.

BrĂ¼no meets Michael Moore in this gut-busting wake-up call that proves a little imagination can go a long way towards vanquishing the Cult of Greed.

Who knew fixing the world could be so much fun?