Sunday, November 20, 2005

She said Yes!

My days as a roving bachelor are now at an end. I proposed to Jane and she said yes!

In other news, we recently moved into our 3 bedroom townhouse! We are now officially homeowners! The place looks alittle empty, but we are still unpacking! :P

Sunday, October 02, 2005

It's been awhile

I know I have been negligent in my duties to this blog. I'll try to rectify that. In the future I'll post shorter blogs about things that really stick in my craw so I'm not writing little mini-novels.

An Update: I am employed fulltime and have been since June 1st. Probably explains why my blog posts suddenly stopped around then. No time. I work as a junior accountant for a distributor of home and car electronics.

Jane and I just completed the final leg of our journey to buy a house. We take possession on Oct 29th. It is the biggest single thing I've ever bought (albeit with the help of somebody very special to me). It is perhaps the nicest place I will have ever lived in.

So those are the big events that have happened so far in the intervening months between my last post and this one. Look to the future for more of my posts!

James Mills



The above picture is of a man who I deem as Canada's biggest narcasistic asshole.

Above is a picture of a man who watched and stood idly by as a five year old child was starved to death by his own grandparents which the Catholic Children's Aid Society had deemed worthy enough to grant them foster care.

James Mills claims he did nothing because he was afraid that he would have been forced to leave the subsidized residence. I say that you now have more to fear from your fellow citizen, because although you will not go to jail due to some sweet deal you cut with the prosecution, you should be punished. You will be punished. Every canadian will know your face.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

More Shenanigans!

This isn’t the first time the religious idiots have sought to impede progress by imposing their “morals” on the general population. I read recently that an HPV vaccine (an STD that causes genital warts and raises the instance of reproductive cancer) that prevents 90% of all infections, is being fought by the religious right.

Bridget Maher of the Family Research Council says “Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful, because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex.”

So what the religious right is saying to you is this…if you have premarital sex and offend our beliefs we want you to die horribly of cancer. Nice eh? So much for turning the other cheek. Who do these people think they are? Since when do they get a say in whether a life saving vaccine gets issued or not? If they are successful here then what is next? Fighting the release of the next AIDS vaccine because it will be potentially harmful because people, gays and straights, will see it as a license to engage in deliciously decadent premarital sex? Bridget Maher and the Family Research Council hate homosexuals (Bridget has a few anti-gay books out) and they’ve already demonstrated they hate sex, so you can bet your bottom dollar that they are going to fight other STD-related vaccines. Because they care about your soul. Riiight. What they really care about is keeping consequences associated with the one thing that should be free in life, your orgasm. They want a price to be paid for having sex, and will not be satisfied until no one is having it, except for holy procreation of course…and only procreation. No wonder Satan is winning, bible thumpers are a bunch of boring do-nothing, know-nothing stiffs (and the not the kind that you get in your pants.)

"Abstinence is the best way to prevent HPV," says Bridget Maher.

Yeah, tell it to your teenage kids.

If any of you remember what it was like being a teenager then you’ll also remember that abstinence was only practiced by those too ugly or too lame to get laid. Seriously, it isn’t an option. I’d rather my kids knew about sex ed (something the religious right has also seen fit to try to take out of the classroom) and knew about condoms and birth control so they could make an educated choice rather then coming to me and saying I’m going to be a grandpa and they haven’t even graduated high school yet. Or having to make the hard grown up choice as to whether to have an abortion all because I failed as a parent to tell them about BC (since the schools can’t do it).

If you think your kid is going to remain a virgin of his/her own free will then you are living in LaLa land. You are doing your child a disservice as a parent by preaching abstinence at them or handing them a bible pamphlet. Be a grown up and have a talk about the birds and the bees with your kids! Don’t leave it up to the religious right to make your decisions for you and your kids, they have a history of making the wrongs ones then not cleaning up their mess.

The Religious Right and their Damnable Meddling.

So I got into it with a conservative on the message boards today about the use of embryonic stem cells in medical research. The conservative was of the view that the research was not only unethical but unnecessary as well. He said that there were more viable applications for adult stem cell research (ASCR) than there were for embryonic stem cell research (ESCR). He was right but for the wrong reasons.

I’ll provide some background on the controversy. ASC can be culled from an adult host without any harm. ESC can be harvested from embryos as their name suggests. Harvesting ESC from embryos destroys the embryo. Naturally ESCR has come under fire from anti-abortion advocates as they argue that these embryos, like the fetus are potential human beings and should be afforded the same rights as any human being. The reason ESC are sought after is because, unlike ASC, they have the capacity to differentiate into any and all tissue types. ASC are limited to a few different tissue types.

What the conservative failed to take into account when commenting on the apparent uselessness of ESCR is the fact that when Bush Jr. clamped down on research in 2001, he restricted an entire nation of scientists to only ten stem cell lines. The official political number was 60 cell lines, but in reality many of those cell lines were contaminated with animal cells (the use of mouse feeder cells to keep the stem cells going for example) and not appropriate for human research. Average wait times for access to the NIH maintained stem cells was 6-9 months. No wonder the research was at a standstill. So for the last 4 years a stem cell scientist had one of two options, wait patiently for the NIH to get back to him, or privately fund his own stem cell line (which was not prohibited). A third option has become available and more and more American scientists are taking advantage of it and that is to leave the country altogether and go to a country that has less or no restrictions. Some of the recent big breakthroughs for example have come from South Korea.

The folly of this sad tale is that the pro-birth regiments have politicized this science and would rather see people suffer and die than allow the march of progress. Scientists aren’t advocating that we rip the stem cells from young pregnant mother’s wombs, because if they were I would say HELL NO! I’m against that! But no, the scientists are just asking to allow people the choice of donating their extra embryos left over from IVF, embryos that will eventually have to be destroyed anyway (unless a bunch of pro-birth women are willing to line up and offer up their uteri).

The pro-birthers are dogged in their belief that an embryo is a person. Let time I checked an embryo has the potential to be a person, but we don’t grant rights to “virtual” people, or “almost” people. A clump of cells that have neither nerves, nor neurons doesn’t really qualify. Arguing on behalf of a fetus in the 2nd trimester I could see (if not necessarily agree with), but 100 cells? I shed more than a 100 cells each time I take a crap.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

The Pink Menace

Love or hate it, it is all over the media.

The fair and balanced state of Texas has just recently banned the fostering of children by gay couples. The sunny positive state of Florida has strong anti-gay adoption laws. It is all done under the guise of protecting the children and defending the institution of marriage. Just what are we protecting them from?

Let’s address some of the misgivings of those that are opposed to homosexuals having any rights, be it for marriage or for establishing a semblance of a family through the fostering or adoption of children.

Gay marriage threatens the tradition of marriage.

How does gay couples getting married accomplish that exactly? To any who read this that are married, is your marriage going to be less of a marriage because Linda and Lisa decide they want to pursue a monogamous commitment to each other? Or that Jack and John want to hang up their dancing shoes because nothing else is more real to them than their relationship to one another? The fact that gay couples are getting married does not diminish the importance of your own marriage nor does it diminish the institution of marriage. People, gay or straight, are getting married for the same reasons, to demonstrate a commitment to each other that goes beyond words.

And as far as respect for the tradition of marriage goes, far more damage has been done to the institution by the heterosexuals it is purportedly supposed to serve. Anyone remember the 55 hr. marriage? Or how does the 50% divorce rate grab ya?

Marriage is between a man and a woman.

The bible would certainly imply this, but the debate that is raging in the US and Canada is not about religious marriage but rather secular marriage. I, for one, would not support forcing churches to carry out gay ceremonies or even forcing them to accept gay parishioners or clergy. Simply because why would you want to be part of a faith that says that something is wrong with you? So back to secular marriage, the reason why there is such a debate to begin with is because it is not defined in law that marriage is between “a man and a woman”, indeed it is a legal contract that can be entered into by consenting adults. Basically there is a fight going on in the US on a state-by-state basis that is trying to enshrine those words in the State Constitutions thereby barring any same sex unions.

Gay marriage is against the Bible.

Indeed the bible seems pretty clear on this. At least the Old Testament is. Jesus didn’t have very much to say on the subject. If you are a good Christian then you should abide by those rules. The dandy thing about the US is there is supposed to be a separation of Church and State, meaning that if you are going to establish laws then they have to be based on sound legal reasoning and not religious belief. Preventing gay marriage because it offends your religion is not reason enough to have a law against it. Another thing about the crafting of laws is that you can’t make a law that unfairly targets a person or an identifiable group of people; all laws should apply to everyone equally. I’ll speak more about this later.

Marriage is for procreation and gay people can’t procreate.


This is a popular legal argument to ban gay marriage. The only problem with this is that if you are going to use a “procreation test” for each marriage then sterile people couldn’t get married, neither could people past their child bearing years, nor the people that voluntarily decide not to have children. Gay couple’s have the same options as straight couples (all state laws aside) when it comes to adoption, or even in vitro fertilization.

Gay couples lead to gay kids.

This school of thought has been used to ban gay couples from adopting or fostering children. It is absurd on the face of it when you must recognize that gay people initially had to be born of straight parents. As for gay people molesting children, there is no more likelihood that a gay person will molest a child than would a straight person. Indeed, because homosexuality is a minority behaviour then the chances of finding a gay person who also molests children is smaller then finding a straight person who also molests children.

Homosexual activists are wrongly comparing their fight for civil rights to the struggle of blacks or women.

This statement is made in reference to the fact that laws cannot be crafted to target an identifiable group of persons. Both blacks and women are identifiable from birth, but gays, they argue, are not. This derives from the debate over whether homosexuality is a choice or not. Recent articles about gay men reacting to male pheromones much like straight women have surfaced in the media. Other articles refer to the relative sizes of the hippocampus in the brain of gay males being similar to the sizes of straight females.

All the science aside we could analyze the situation with common sense.

Why would anyone choose to adopt a lifestyle that would:

1. Get their ass kicked on a regular basis.
2. Make them hate themselves.
3. Get them cast out of their church and God’s love.
4. Get disowned by their family and friends.
5. See that they never have the same rights with their partner of 20 years that straight couples get after day 1 of marriage.
6. Have people constantly tell them that they’re going to hell.
7. Have the same people tell them that they’ll pray for their sins.

That’s just for starters. Basically it is your choice to become a pariah in your own society? Who would willingly choose that? Which leads me to another question.

When was the last time you choose to be straight? Do you wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “Yeah I’m really attracted to the opposite sex today! Yesterday was a fluke. I blame the beer.” Do you? I’ll tell you how often I think about it. Zero. Surprised? Don’t be. No one invests time in thinking about his or her orientation; it is just there, like the nose on your face.

Asking a gay person to be straight is like asking a straight person to be gay, you could force them to do it, but they wouldn’t like it and they wouldn’t be happy. You don’t have to like gay people or approve of their lifestyle but you should be big enough to treat them with the respect that any human being deserves. They should be able to get married and adopt or foster kids and have a chance at a family life that every straight person has a right to.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Electoral Reform in BC

Tomorrow (or today as it is late) BC will ponder not only what Premier to vote for but to vote on perhaps adopting a new voting system. Currently we have the first-past-the-post system, that is very "to the winner, the spoils" in nature. The new system on the table is called STV or Single Transferable Vote. In a nutshell, after redrawing some constituencies you will have a choice between several MLA's in your riding, and you can vote for only one, but the neat thing is you can rank the MLA's by preference, so if your 1st choice wins the minimum necessary votes to be elected then the excess votes are allocated to your second choice. In thery no vote goes to waste and the elected MLA's reflect more closely the popular vote. So if your party has 30% popularity among the people, you will most like get 30% of the MLA's.

I received an e-mail telling me that some economists do not think that STV is a good thing. The one thing that never fails to amuse me is that economists and accountants, as good as they are with numbers, money and statistical models on how to make money, they miss the human element in the equation. So I wrote a reply and decided to make it a blog article as well.

This is what the Vancouver Board of Trade had to say about STV.

Board recommends "No" vote on STV

May 12, 2005

Dear member,

On Election Day, May 17, you will be asked to vote in a referendum on a new electoral process called Single Transferable Vote (STV).

The Board of Trade has studied the implications of STV as a voting process, and while The Board does support electoral reform, it does not support STV for the following reasons:

1. If STV had been used to elect our MLAs, in the last 35 years there would have been only one majority government.
2. Minority governments tend to be short lived, which would mean more frequent elections, leading politicians to be shortsighted in an attempt to get re-elected.
3. Constant coalition governments could threaten sound economic policy in our province.
4. The number of constituencies in the province would be drastically reduced, and the size of rural ridings would be doubled, resulting in less effective local representation.
5. In large city ridings there would be numerous MLAs, and the number of names on election ballots would be enormous.
6. The most worrisome issue is that under a STV system, a party with minority representation can end up wielding most of the power.

For example, Germany, over the past six decades, has been governed by a series of coalition governments. Generally, neither of the two largest parties in Germany receives a majority of the votes, so they must attract a smaller party to achieve a majority in their federal assembly in order to form a government. In turn, that smaller party is in a position to dictate the terms of the alliance, thereby thwarting the democratic process.

The current situation in Ottawa, where the Liberals are negotiating agreements with a smaller party in order to maintain government, is a good illustration of what would happen under the STV system.

To keep our economy strong, British Columbia needs strong leadership, especially in government, where economic policy is formed. If B.C. moves to the STV voting process it will compromise the ability of the government, from any party, to effectively lead this province.

On May 17, The Board of Trade recommends a "No" vote to STV.

Sincerely,

Graeme Stamp
Chairman

http://www.boardoftrade.com/vbot_page.asp?pageid=1648

This is my reply to the fat cats who obviously didn't give this enough thought.

A point-by-point rebuttal:

1.A minority government in itself is not a negative point.

2.What the Vancouver Board of Trade fail to take under consideration is that if the system changes so do the underlying motivations of the politicians. This is a necessary adjustment.

Minority governments are short-lived today because the current system encourages a majority "winner-takes-all" government. There was a real benefit in trying to bring down a minority government because there was a real chance that the usurper's party could win a majority status. With STV the risks outweigh the benefits, as there is less of a guarantee that the usurper could get anything more than a minority him/herself. STV would offer more consistent minority governments and the politicians would have to adjust or suffer the consequences.

3. And a majority government couldn’t do the same? Look to the NDP years under Glen Clark.

4. How so? The constituency maps will be redrawn and a certain amount of amalgamation will occur, but the total number of seats available across the new constituencies will equal the number of seats across the old.

5. Define enormous. 100? 1000? Currently their are 79 constituencies for 79 seats. Under STV there could be as few as 18 constituencies. On average that is 4 seats per constituency. Let’s say that urban centers are actually allocated double that, so you’ve got eight MLA’s positions to fill. Let’s assume 3 people run per position that is 24 persons to decide from. Big, but not unmanageable. This is probably the only real negative I can see about STV and it is weak.

6. Isn’t that what happens with majority governments elected by a minority of the popular vote? 1996 the NDP were elected by 40% of the popular vote to get a majority government. Under STV a party with minority representation can hold some influence as a swing voter, but that is hardly the unequaled power of the current systems majority governments.

--"For example, Germany, over the past six decades it
has been governed by a series of coalition governments. Generally, neither of the two largest parties in Germany receives a majority of the votes, so they must
attract a smaller party to achieve a majority in their federal assembly in order to form a government. In turn, that smaller party is in a position to dictate the terms of the alliance, thereby thwarting the
democratic process."--

The democratic process is about everyone having an equal voice and making decision based on committee, not making decisions based on the whim of the ruling party. What the Germans have is what I like to call a “government that listens”, if only because it is forced to. Using their example, Germany has been doing well with minority governments for decades and I don't see their economy suffering because of it. Also I'd like to add, if parties co-operated more across the aisle there would not be a need to form coalitions where one small party weilds influence out of proportion to it's size. Less selfishness, less agenda setting, more stable governments.

--"The current situation in Ottawa, where the Liberals
are negotiating agreements with a smaller party in
order to maintain government, is a good illustration of what would happen under the STV system."--

Again comparing the federal situation in Ottawa under the first-past-the-post system and drawing the conclusion that the same will happen in BC under the STV system is erroneous as the selective pressures that drive both of these systems are very different.

--"To keep our economy strong, British Columbia needs
strong leadership,..."--

There is nothing to say that a minority government cannot provide strong leadership. In the end all the parties want generally the same thing, a strong and productive BC. Since when has it been to a leader’s detriment to hear out the opposition and seriously consider what they have to say? Can no good ideas arise from the opposition? An STV fueled minority government would be less adversarial and more advisor-arial.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Outsourcing

From an MIS point of view you only outsource your low-skilled, low-tech jobs. This is done because of the idea that there is someone out there that can do what you are doing in-house a lot cheaper and more efficiently that you can yourself. It is a golden rule never to outsource your company’s core competencies, because in theory that is what makes your company unique and viable as a going concern. It is the area that you are supposed to be an expert in. If you could outsource your core competencies then you obviously aren’t much of a company with much to offer.

I don’t have a problem with outsourcing in general. It isn’t a bad idea as long as you outsource within your borders. Outsourcing overseas to markets like India and China does nothing but discriminate against local workers. I read the other day in the Globe and Mail that Dell just outsourced 2000 jobs to India. Great for Dell, great for the shareholders, greater still for management whose strike price for their options have finally been reached allowing them to cash in on thousands if not millions of dollars. It is, however, a shitty deal for the 2000 low-end, low-tech workers that have just lost their jobs and benefits because some CEO wants a fat Christmas bonus.

I’ve done some research on the positives of outsourcing and most sources cite that because corporations are allowed to “offshore” the low end jobs they can preserve and create more higher skilled higher paying jobs. The statistics seem to support this on its face. However, higher skilled, higher paying jobs means the workforce has to be even more educated to qualify for a position.

You see it more often today that even for a menial skilled job in a corporate office like for example a mailroom clerk (something that they have not found a way to outsource…yet) needs a university degree to even be considered for the position. Since when do you need a Bachelors in Physics to sort mail? The bar has been raised, so much so that corporate jobs are increasingly becoming beyond the reach of the average person.

Corporations don’t want to invest any time in their employees anymore. They only want to hire those that can hit the ground running. For example, I have a university degree and a good portion of my professional designation completed but I only qualify for an entry-level position. I have plenty of education but so does everyone else. I lack experience and that is what is hurting me. But at least I qualify for a job. Those that don’t have the education either because they couldn’t afford it or it wasn’t their forte are condemned to McJob’s (or the lucky few who get factory work, provided the plant isn’t “relocated” to Mexico to cut expenses).

The root of the problem is twofold. One is the inequality of the international labour laws and the economic conditions in foreign countries. A corporation can get away with paying an Indian worker 5$ US a day, because to the Indian worker it seems like a decent wage considering the economic realities of his country. A Chinese worker that has little say about his pay because the local labour laws are light years behind that of Canada or the US.

The second problem is the genius that decided to try to align the interests of management with the interests of the shareholders by making management’s wealth and rewards tied to the fortunes of the company by offering them option packages. All this does is force management to look for ways to make their company look pretty in the financial statements, so when they are released it misleads investors into thinking that they are an attractive investment and boost the share price by investing in herds. Management looks for short term boosts so they can cash out and to hell with the long-term. Who suffers in the short-term? The non-management employees, that’s who. Who is left holding the bag? The shareholders.

It is directly from the CEO playbook, a new CEO gets hired the first thing he/she does is looks for ways to cut expenses. The easiest expense to cut? Employees. Fire a few people and make the remaining people work harder and outsource “unnecessary” positions to countries you’ve never heard of. The result, expenses are down, profits are up, and the debt/equity ratio looks pretty. All this translates into the CEO appearing like he/she is earning their keep, stock rise, CEO cashes out, company enters into a crisis, CEO gets fired and the process starts all over again.

It is in management’s best interest to behave like this because there are no repercussions for this behaviour. CEO’s often sign on with a company with a handsome bonus and a clause in their contracts referred to as a “poison pill” or “golden parachute” which basically states no matter how badly they fuck the company and it’s shareholders, the company must pay a king’s ransom to fire them. It was originally conceived as a defense against hostile takeovers (which usually resulted in management getting fired en masse), but lately CEO’s have been employing it as a carte blanche to do what they will in the company. Seriously, when you are making tens of millions in one year after you exercise your options and have a poison pill clause, so what if you get fired the very next year? You just move on to your next executive position.

So what can be done to level the playing field? CEO’s should be paid a salary (and they should also be barred from sitting on their friends Board of Directors, but that is another mess), no options that are tied to the stock price. Pay a bonus instead. No more poison pills written into starting contracts. If they want some protection have vested clauses instead (clauses that become active after a period of time, to reflect their performance and dedication to the company).

About outsourcing to other countries…this is a tricky one. You could legislate that all outsourcing has to be down within the country, but then corporations would pick up and flee the country. Or you could legislate that the only countries that can be outsourced to are countries that meet a certain standard for economic robustness and labour protection, and ban imports from countries and corporations that maintain offices there that don’t meet these requirements. The only problem is the corporate lobbies own the political parties, which is why outsourcing became an option in the first place.

I remember when I was taking a course in Cost Accounting. They focused heavily on ethics as well as the technical aspects of accounting. One such question was if a machine came out that could replace an entire department how would I handle the transition of the employees in that department as the ranking cost accountant. I answered that if the time frame was long enough I would gradually phase in the new machine as people retired or moved to new jobs. If the time frame were tight I would try to place what individuals I could in other departments and offer to re-train the rest for some other position. Being an ethics question I was told that there was no “right or wrong”, but my answer was optimistic and somewhat na├»ve. I guess I’m in the wrong profession as my answer wasn’t really cost effective.

Corporations have to realize that they have a social responsibility to their employees and to their country of residence. They can’t be allowed to callously take away thousands of families means to support themselves and write theses people off. They may create more choices for people with high-level skills but those people are in a minority, the reality is they are taking choices away from poor and undereducated to have a chance at a decent standard of living.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Terri Schiavo

Terri Schiavo died on March 31st, 2005. Up till the moment of her death and beyond the controversy has been fiery and pointed from both sides. I got into it when I forum I belonged to began discussing it. I did some background research and this is what I've come up with.

Points for Keeping Terri Schiavo Alive refuted:

She was making progress in her therapy before it was cut off in 1993.

At the time when Michael sued for malpractice it could very well be that he thought (and the doctors thought) that there might be a chance of recovery for Terri. It wasn't so much that she was making progress, but that there was hope that she would make progress (literally at the time, it was too soon to tell). At the time of the malpractice trial all therapies had not yet been exhausted.

Michael received the settlement in January of 1993 and Terri didn't get put in a nursing home until March of 1994, she was treated aggressively for almost 3 years. Keep in mind Michael also was by that time a respiratory therapist and male nurse who could be considered an expert on rehabilitative therapies. Also keep in mind he didn't file with the courts to remove the feeding tube until May of 1998.

It was an evolving situation, so the fact that the therapy was discontinued around when the judgment was receive was a coincidence brought on by the slowness of the legal system. It wouldn't be the first time a judgment was won but the party it was supposed to benefit either didn't need it anymore or had passed on.

The actual award was to be applied primarily to her treatment and then secondarily to her maintenance. Another thing to consider, these experimental therapies were not cheap. Michael could have continued on longer, but the 750,000$ would have been exhausted in no time at all and no money would've been left for her continuing care. So when you say that for 12 years she was refused treatment, it could be very well that they couldn't afford it without jeopardizing her living annuity. Doctors are no doubt happy to accept money for experimental treatments that probably won’t work (like Dr. Hammesfahr and Dr. Maxfield for example). Michael Schiavo had consulted with enough experts by that time and had been told the same thing; there was nothing more they could do for Terri.

If progress was being shown in Terri's medical records and these therapies were making progress then that alone would've been grounds for keeping her alive and appointing guardianship to the parents. This was not the case, as most experts agreed with Michael, including the court appointed physician. I cannot stress enough that this court case was the most thoroughly and exhaustively examined case in recent history.

She was refused all treatment options for 12 years.

Again, “refused” (and “withheld”) is a hostile word employed by those that wish to demonize Michael Schiavo. He had run out of treatment options, this is what the qualified expert’s at the time were telling him; there was nothing more to be done. Incidentally the “experts” that believed Terri was not in a PVS and could be treated didn’t turn up until the case went to court in 1998. Where were these experts before?

The only witnesses to her making the statement that she did not wish to be artificially kept alive were Schiavo, and two of Schiavo relatives.

Granted that looks somewhat suspect, but equally suspect are the family and friends on Terri’s side of the camp saying that she made comments (in relation to a similar case) that being taken off life support was morally wrong. You can’t paste Schiavo without pasting the Schindler’s.

Michael just wanted to kill her off to inherit the money.

Michael Schiavo had no ulterior motive in getting the courts to decide to discontinue life support. Money wasn't a motive (there wasn't more than 50,000$ left in Terri's trust), Michael had even drafted a contract that would sign over any remaining money to charity if the parents would abstain from legal action. The parent's refused.

Interestingly, the guardian ad litem that was appointed to make the determination as to whether the feeding tube could be removed in 1998, Mr. Richard Pearse, he had concluded that the parents of Terri were in a conflict of interest as well for wanting Michael to divorce Terri so they could have legal guardianship over her (and thus have inheritance rights if she died).

Even more interestingly, the relationship between Michael Schiavo and the Schindler’s didn’t sour until after the malpractice award was paid and the Schindler’s wanted Schiavo to split his “loss of consortium” award with them (300,000$ that was Michael’s free and clear this being separate of Terri’s 750,000$ trust which Michael could not touch). Michael refused and the fight was on.

Michael wanted to kill her off to cover up abuse.

The alleged abuse, there exist no documentation of the physical injuries that would indicate that she suffered anything more than what would normally be suffered from bulimia, a fall, then CPR.

The problem with this allegation mostly lies in the fact that the Schindler’s decided to make this accusation in an emergency motion in Nov. 2002. The bone scan that they introduced was taken in 1991. Many medical professionals had a chance to look at Terri and draw that conclusion both before her cardiac infarction and after it. It was reasonable to the courts to accept that most of the damage to her structure was caused by bulimia, the fall, and subsequent CPR. Quite frankly, if she didn’t have a heart attack and the oxygen deprivation was from strangulation, then where were the bruises on her neck? These would’ve been quite prominent and documented by the hospital staff.

Terri Schiavo could swallow saliva on her own, so she could have learned to handle oral intake of food.

Saliva handling is handled as a reflex by the brainstem (necessarily so or we would aspirate saliva into our lungs as we slept, saliva production is also greatly reduced upon sleeping to the reflex doesn’t have to deal with a large amount of it, this is contrary to the situation we deal with in a food/drink scenario). Voluntary swallowing is needed for drinking and solids. The entire process of swallowing food is about 1/3 voluntary and 2/3 involuntary (peristalsis of the food down the esophagus is involuntary), but it is the voluntary portion that is required to get the bollus moving.

Richard Pearse, the Guardian Ad Litem, recommended that Terri remain on life support and was dismissed for it because Michael didn’t get the answer he wanted.

Michael, because of a recommendation by said guardian ad litem, could not make the decision because of a conflict of interest, but this same guardian ad litem also stated that the Schindler’s were in conflict as well as they wanted guardianship and encouraged Michael to divorce Terri and move on with his life. So what he did was personally petition the court to decide if indeed Terri Schiavo would want to be sustained artificially. The courts were designated to be a neutral surrogate. If the courts came back in the Schindler’s favour then the courts would have decided that Terri did indeed wish to live sustained artificially.

Richard Pearse’s reasoning that because a person has been on life support for X number of years is in it self a reason to continue it is flawed. It disregards the circumstances surrounding the reason for putting someone on life support in the first place. Most of the time one is place on life support with the hopes that with the aid, one will get better. That she has been on life support for 8 years is hardly a reason to keep her on it.

Richard Pearse was dismissed from his role as Guardian Ad Litem for reasons of bias and inaccuracy. He did not include in his report Michael’s formal repudiation of his rights to the financial estate of Terri upon her death, thus undermining the main reason why he made a recommendation to deny Michael the right to remove the feeding tube. Rightly so, his recommendation in light of those facts was taken with a grain of salt. Michael’s only authority (or choice) in the matter was to give up his ability to make a choice. Michael and the Schindler’s were having their ability to make a choice taken away from them. That is what happens when you let a court arbitrate a decision. It would’ve been legally binding independent of Michael’s wants and desires. If Michael had a reversal of opinion, it would’ve made the courts decision no less binding.


Richard Pearse’s view has since changed on the subject.

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/11/06/news_pf/Columns/An_insider_shifts_his.shtml


The doctors for Schindler’s Camp said that Terri was not in a PVS and could be treated successfully.

The judge had trouble with Dr. Hammesfahr and Dr. Maxfield’s credibility was that both doctors presented their cases full of anecdotal evidence and although Hammesfahr testified that he had treated scores of patients worse off than Terri he offered no names, no studies, no empirical results.

Dr. Maxfield wasn’t even a neurologist. He offered no studies that hyperbaric oxygenation would even affect this kind of brain damage. Considering that the procedure has been around for years, there should have been something.

Instead both Schindler experts discussed extensively the merits of stem cell therapies, although neither is an expert in such research. This is why the judge found both of their opinions to be lacking in credibility.

More on this here:
http://www.casewatch.org/civil/schiavo.shtml


Michael Schiavo is an adulterous cheating husband.

It is true that Michael Schiavo took up with another woman and had children with her while still married to Terri. Probably not the most stellar of conduct, however it is not like he could have normal relations with Terri nor could Terri bear his children. In short it wasn’t a normal relationship so his actions should not be viewed in the same light, as they would be if Terri were an aware human being. Michael very much indeed wanted to get on with his life, but he also wanted to fulfill his wife’s dying wish. It would’ve been the easy way out to abandon her to her parents (indeed her parents encouraged him to do just that), but he stuck it out till the end.

She was never given a PET or an MRI to determine the extent of her brain damage.


A high quality CAT scan and X-Rays are just as useful in diagnosing the brain condition. It was decided that these could substitute for an MRI as the added benefit from an MRI would not outweigh the unnecessary risk of invasive brain surgery necessary to remove the implants.

An Excerpt from Robert Cranford’s e-mail:

“An MRI was never recommended because, in this case and other patients in a permanent vegetative state, the CT scans were more than adequate to demonstrate the extremely severe atrophy of the cerebral hemispheres, and an MRI would add nothing of significance to what we see on the CT scans. Plus the MRI is contraindicated because of the intrathalamic stimulators implanted in Terri's brain. A PET scan was never done in this case because it was never needed. The classic clinical signs on examination, the CT scans, and the flat EEG's were more than adequate to diagnose PVS to the highest degree of medical certainty, along with the credible testimony of the three neurologists at the longest evidentiary hearing in American law, whose opinions were strongly affirmed by the trial court judge and three appeal court judges. Please see Judge Greer's opinions on the credibility of the experts testifying on behalf of the Schindler family.”

http://pekinprattles.blogspot.com/2005/03/schiavo-dr-cranford-offers-reply.html


Sarah Mele, speech pathologist, swears a nine-page affidavit that with therapy Terri could speak.

Honestly, is Sarah Mele a neurosurgeon? Did she not take into account that Terri’s cerebral cortex was clearly missing and replaced by cerebra-spinal fluid? Any neurosurgeon worth his/her salt will tell you that cognitive coherent speech without a CC is impossible.

What about Kate Adamson, she was diagnosed as PVS and made a full recovery.

Kate Adamson had a double stroke in her brainstem. Her cerebral cortex was intact (thus her ability to think). Terri’s cerebral cortex was missing. These are two different and incompatible situations.

What about the misdiagnosis Dr. Robert Cranford made about Robert Wendland and others?

Individual doctors make mistakes, but in an interview with Ragged Edge Magazine, Cranford referred to Wendland as “minimally conscious”.

http://www.raggededgemagazine.com/extra/wendland012201.htm

Wendland never had his tube removed; he died of pneumonia after the antibiotics weren’t working.

As evidenced by communication from Cranford himself, he never diagnosed Wendland as a PVS. Indeed he never misdiagnosed any patient.

An excerpt from an e-mail detailing his actual position:

“As for the National Review Online article, I stand by my record. The record is very clear that I did not testify that Robert Wendland was in a PVS, and the same applies for the case of Michael Martin in Michigan. Both these patients were clearly not PVS”

http://pekinprattles.blogspot.com/2005/03/schiavo-dr-cranford-offers-reply.html


Did Judge Greer defy the law in making his decisions in the case?

It is any US citizens’ right to refuse medical treatment or care that will unnecessarily prolong their life to their discomfort. The above statute is to protect those incapacitated from being deprived of food and water against their will. The whole point of appointing the court to act as a surrogate was to determine to the best of anyone’s ability what Terri’s wishes were. The courts decided after extensive, adversarial approach to analyzing the evidence. Essentially Florida Statute 765.102(3) trumps 744.3215 (Rights of Persons Determined to be Incapacitated that requires that incapacitated people cannot be deprived of food and water against their will).

§ 765.102(3), Florida Statutes states:

The Legislature recognizes that for some the administration of life-prolonging medical procedures may result in only a precarious and burdensome existence. In order to ensure that the rights and intentions of a person may be respected even after he or she is no longer able to participate actively in decisions concerning himself or herself, and to encourage communication among such patient, his or her family, and his or her physician, the Legislature declares that the laws of this state recognize the right of a competent adult to make an advance directive instructing his or her physician to provide, withhold, or withdraw life-prolonging procedures, or to designate another to make the treatment decision for him or her in the event that such person should become incapacitated and unable to personally direct his or her medical care.

Definition of a "life-prolonging procedure":

§ 765.101(10), Florida Statutes

"Life-prolonging procedure" means any medical procedure, treatment, or intervention, including artificially provided sustenance and hydration, which sustains, restores, or supplants a spontaneous vital function. The term does not include the administration of medication or performance of medical procedure, when such medication or procedure is deemed necessary to provide comfort care or to alleviate pain."

Judge Greer’s decisions were repeatedly reviewed and upheld by the second district, with one exception, the Second District court of appeals believed that he erred in denying a motion for a new trial based on new medical evidence. The Schindler appeals never made it to the Florida Supreme Court as they supported every decision made by the Second District and therefore Judge Greer. If Judge Greer were in violation of any statute, state or federal, the higher courts would have censured him. No law applies if it runs contrary to the patient’s wishes. That is what the first trial was about, to ascertain Terri’s wishes.

In Conclusion:

I believe that the media has skewed much of what Michael Schiavo has done in a negative light, evidenced by the fact that it is much easier to find right to live material on the web than it is to find right to die material, and much easier to find material that paints an awful (and unfair) picture of Michael, Judge Greer and the doctors and lawyers that represent him. In addition I do not think a grand miscarriage of justice has taken place only people’s perception of that justice (which is heavily coloured by religious beliefs).

The courts themselves have said that Terri could not have had a more supportive husband than she had in Michael. It would’ve have been the easiest thing in the world to walk away from Terri. No one would’ve blamed him, least of all the Schindler’s. The only reason he would’ve fought so hard was he was fighting for something he believed Terri would’ve wanted.

If anyone has some specific questions (or accusations), feel free to ask in the comments or e-mail me as I’m pretty well versed in the workings of the case. I couldn’t present the entirety of my research here (because it is pretty long and involved).

Some additional links (used in my research):

General info about the case
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo

Legal references for the case and chronology
http://abstractappeal.com/schiavo/infopage.html

A commentary from the other side
http://washingtontimes.com/commentary/20041226-123251-5015r.htm

The Richard Pearse report (PDF)
http://www.miami.edu/ethics2/schiavo/122998%20Schiavo%20Richard%20Pearse%20GAL%20report.pdf

The Wolfson Report (PDF)
http://www.miami.edu/ethics/schiavo/wolfson%27s%20report.pdf

Wolfson’s Comments
http://www.sptimes.com/2003/12/04/Columns/A_wise_voice_pierces_.shtml

Saturday, April 16, 2005

What the Bleep do we Know?

A quick post. I just watched a documentary that I can say has given me the closest thing I have ever had to a religious experience. It was called "What the Bleep do we Know?" Rent it, borrow it, buy it, steal it, but please watch it. It is about quantum mechanics and the nature of reality. I've had thoughts along parallel lines for some years but the people that were interviewed for this piece have fleshed it out so much further than I could ever have thought possible. It gives you a new way of looking at how we perceive reality and just what is real. Fucking Brilliant!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Banking Woes, a true story

I heard this story the other day, I've changed the names to protect the innocent.

A man had deposited a large cheque in his account because he was planning a rather large and necessary (time-sensitive) purchase. He was a man who had a good credit rating, who worked hard for his money, and the bank account he deposited the cheque in he had been with for close to 14 years. Because of this purchase, the man had also used up his credit line and credit card he had with the bank.

The man found out that they had put a five business day hold on the cheque, so the man called the local branch where he had deposited it and talked to the manager to see if he could hurry along the process or perhaps release part of the cheque.

I'll paraphrase the conversation.

Man: Is there any way you can hurry along the process to releasing the funds?

BM: No

Man: Do you need to call the bank where the cheque is being drawn upon to verify that the funds are in the account?

Note: The man personally knew the drawer of the cheque and knew that the funds had been transfer on the drawing account to back the cheque

BM: I can't do that. You'd have to get a certified cheque.

Note: Certified cheques cost money. Getting permission from the drawer of the cheque to give the man's bank permission to verify that the funds are available is free. But it would involve doing some work.

Man: Is there anyway you can release a portion of the funds to me, and release the remainder after 5 business days?

BM: I'm looking at your account to see if you have enough room on your line of credit to gurantee the funds you want released but it seems you have no room.

Man: If I had room on my line of credit then it wouldn't be necessary to talk to you, I would take it from my line of credit and wait for the cheque to clear.

BM: Oh.

Man: Is there anything you can do?

BM: My hands are really tied, maybe if your home account was transferred to us like I suggested before then I could do more.

Note: This man has moved around, he lives in a city that does not house his home branch. Not an uncommon situatiuon in the age of electronic communication. The BM had raised the idea of account consolidation with the local branch in an unrelated matter.

Man: My question is, if I consolidate my accounts with you, could you have done any more to release a portion of my funds or hurrying along the clearing process?

BM: No, not really.

Man: Then consoldiation of my accounts with you is a moot point then.

Man: Thank you for you time, this has been most illuminating.


Banks have lost sight of who their customers are. We are nothing but numbers to them now. There are rules and guidelines to deal with any and every situation, unbending rules and uncaring rules. Unless of course you are rich, then the rules don't apply.

When was the last time you ever got any interest paid on your savings account with any of the major tier one banks? I read somewhere that a man had deposited with RBC over $200,000 in a savings account and guess how much interest he got? Two whole dollars! That is a travesty.

But how much have you paid in fees? Transaction fees, account insurance fees, per item fees, overdraft fees, cheque fees, over limit fees, account package fees, ATM fees...the list goes on. These are the big money makers for the Banks. Nibble away at your savings, one bite at a time.

I remember when my credit wasn't so good, and I was denied the opportunity to open a second savings account with my bank. Denied a savings account! I wasn't asking them for a loan, i was asking them for another place to put my money. I raised hell, as I usually do and the reason they gave me for not allowing me to have another saving account? Because I could deposit bad cheques in an ATM. But I thought that they don't release funds for 5 days for verification? Or they only release the level of money that can be guaranteed by funds in your accounts? Could it be that my bank was full of shit?

My solution? Go to a branch in a smaller city and get them to open it. Big city bank branches are full of people with power trips and big egos. Which reminds me of my favourite scene in a movie, the very end of Fight Club wth the Pixies playing in the background.

I have many issues with banks in general, and no doubt you'll hear of this in the coming days. Unfortunately they are a necessary evil. They are the gatekeepers and they hold all of the keys.

If Yahoo Message Boards were the US, then the US is full of Racists.

It doesn’t really matter which board you go to, sooner or later you’ll get some a-hole posting one of the following:

“SEND ALL BLAXS BAK TO AFRICA!”
“I HATE NIGS”
“KICK OUT THE NIGLETS”

I could be on a board about the joys of knitting, and one of these guys will post, without fail.

I feel obligated to say something. I am a firm believer in the following quote attributed to Edmund Burke:

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.


If they are inclined to argue rather than insult me they’ll toss out a link like this one.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/crimoff.htm#prevalence

I say unto them:

Yea, now pull average education level and average salary per year for Hispanics, blacks and whites. I can already tell you what you'll find. Blacks and Hispanics on average will have lower average education than whites and lower average gross salary per year.

Here is another exercise for you. Pull the stats for all black men and woman that got at least a college education and are making at least 40K a year and compare their crime rates to that of the comparable white cohort. Do you know what you'll find?

You will find that the crime rates are similar.

Crime isn't spurred on by race, it is lack of education and lack of a good job to support oneself and one's family.

The difference between a law abiding citizen and a criminal is about nine meals.

An Idea to Bring Peace to Yahoo Message Boards in out Time

I spend a good portion of my time on the Yahoo message boards. Why do I do it? Part of me likes to think that it is because I like to educate people, give them a new way of looking at things. Another part of me thinks it is because I like to utterly crush stupidity utter my ruthless heel of...crushing. I think the latter might be more truthful.

Such is my nature. I'm normally not an asshole, but the one thing I can't stand is someone spouting off about a subject that they have not rooted in fact.

The problem with stupidity, and I am talking the really fanatically stunned, is that they are invulnerable to criticism from their peers. They simply do not listen. You can't educate them, you can't reason with them, and you can't compromise with them. They are like retarded Terminators. They will not stop.

Maybe I am afflicted with a stupidity of my own...lately I've been trying to find another way of reaching out to our right-wing brethren (ok maybe beyond stupid and trespassing into insanity). I thought I'd take the high road. Here is what i wrote:

Instead of labeling people and trying to insult one another because of race, language, country, sexual or political orientation why don't we try being civil to one another and actually discuss reasonably and rationally the issues. If you take the time to listen to the other side, and if the other side spends some time construction a rationale that is not steeped in racism, or elitism, or what have you, then maybe we learn something about each other, and be one step further to coming up with a solution to our problems (even if the only problem solved is how we interrelate peaceably).

Instead what I see is people using this message board as a platform to air their bias and fling their insults, not having a care for whom they belittle, all because the sense of anonymity gives them a sense of power and they suffer no consequences.

No wonder people look upon the US as one screwed up country. This message board is a microcosm of your society and in it you are reflecting poorly.

Here is an exercise for all of you trolls (and I mean all sides) out there. If you really hold your beliefs as strongly as you do then you will have no problem expressing them in your everyday life. I find it hard to believe that anyone would conduct themselves in public to a bunch of strangers as they do on this message board. But if you feel that way, I encourage you to act the same way in real life.

A far less painful exercise would be to try and find one thing you like about your opposition (something positive) and compliment them on it. When you start recognizing the strengths in the differences in your fellow citizen then you'll be a country united again.


And my first reply back to it?

Re: Here is an Idea!
by: bbbutler2000 (30/M/Pittsburgh) 04/08/05 02:20 am
Msg: 388 of 483
1 recommendation

yawn,i think you just wrote a cure for my insomnia


Posted as a reply to: Msg 384 by vasper85


Why do I continue to bother? Maybe because I have faith in my fellow human as evidence by the very next response:

Re: Here is an Idea!
by: intelligence_quotient9876 04/08/05 02:20 am
Msg: 389 of 483

Omg...

That just might be the only logical post I've seen on this board in months...


Posted as a reply to: Msg 384 by vasper85


Stupid just beat him to the punch is all.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Quebecois Deux

I got a reply for my last post “Quebecois” from a friend of mine; he raised some very good points so I felt I had to respond. Kudo’s Andrew!

The metaphor that Quebec is a colicky child is an apt one. Every time the question of sovereignty is defeated by referendum it is put on the back burner until politicians both old and young can viably resurrect it. The difference in opinion that you and I have on this issue is I am a realist and you are admittedly an idealist. You speak of us (the French and the Anglos) as Canadians collectively, that have to tough it out and find some sort of compromise. Well I tell you that the only one doing the bending is the Anglos. Case is point: When the Charter of rights and Freedoms was voted on and enacted in 1982 under the Constitution Act, all the provinces and territories voted except one. Quebec abstained. Interestingly enough, the only two times in history that the notwithstanding clause from section 33 of the Charter was used since the enactment was once by Saskatchewan (to prevent third party picketing, I believe) and once by Quebec (to support their language police and French first policies), this notwithstanding clause has a time limit of 5 years, yet every time the limit has expired it has been renewed. Quebec didn’t want the Charter, yet it uses the Charter to further it’s own ends. Quebec has a history of using Canada to further it’s own ends.

If the rest of Canada treats Quebec irrationally, then I say it is because Quebec treats us irrationally. It is our reaction to playing the exhaustive game of diplomacy. If you examine the situation, there is only one party that is actively seeking to undermine the relationship between Canada and Quebec and that is Quebec. The rest of Canada has already swallowed much of its pride in an effort to appease the French. I ask you, what is your second language? Indeed what is the second language of any Canadian outside of Quebec? If your native born to Canada, chances are your second language is French. The only ego left in this country resides in the Quebecois and it is their agenda that drives this country.

That being said, I don’t resent having to have learned French when I was in school, indeed I pursued it of my own accord after I left. I think the French have a lot to offer in the way of culture and we Canadians have definitely benefited from having a more European slant on the world. What I do resent is having made the gesture, as all Anglos have, is to have it spit back in our face. Like what we are doing is not good enough. That is disrespect plain and simple. Work with the French I will, work for the French I will not.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Quebecois

The Americans don’t like the French this much is plain. Freedom Fries and Freedom Kisses, that’ll show them. I think though that those of the United States of Jesusland don’t have the right to complain. After all are the French on the verge of tearing their country apart? This is a real threat from our neighbours to the East. The last election has given the Bloc a solid majority in their belle province. They outnumber the NDP for seats by a vast margin. One shudders to think. With the election the separatist movement has raised its ugly head again.

Why are they so fired up to tear asunder our confederation? It isn't like we beat Quebecers or pelt them with rotten fruit when they walk down the street, lock them in closets when we hear them speak en francais. We do none of these things. In fact we struggle, we the tres stupide anglais, to learn their frustrating language, with their baffling gender designations for inanimate objects and equally confusing myriad of conjugated verbs, where the only rule is that there is definitely not just once exception, but two or three

The politicians seduce the younger generation with lies of a better life as a sovereign country. Aren't they sovereign in all but name anyhow? Quebec is Canada's tantrum-throwing child, the one that screams in the malls when he doesn't get what he wants, and Canada plays the part of the worried mother at the end of her rope, trying desperately to please Quebec, just to get him to shut up for.... just...one...moment.

But Quebec does not shut up; instead Quebec makes more and more outrageous demands. Quebec sets the tone of our country, holds itself up as an example to the world. In what other country could a rich and gifted people, grumble and threaten succession for the smallest disagreement. Alberta has followed Quebec’s lead, rattling its saber every time it disagrees with Ottawa. It is times like these that I envy how the US used to be. Not anywhere in the States prior to last November’s election would you hear of such talk of succession, it happened once, and they fought a war over it to keep the country united. It was called the Civil War. Such was the States resolve to keep together what was forged. I wonder if Canada has the same resolve. That was the problem from the beginning, Canada has coddled Quebec too much and it needs to stop. We should institute an open door policy, in proper Canadian fashion, those that want to leave Canada, can leave. Leave they will, but as a Canadian citizen I will not condone them taking one square foot of Quebec. As a citizen and a taxpayer, drawing upon a corporate vocabulary, I am a shareholder in Canada, thus a shareholder in Quebec as well. Does the will of a vocal minority prevail over the well being of a silent majority? Quebec is leading Canada down the road to chaos and dissolution with their selfishness. Quebec does not belong to Quebecers. Quebec belongs to Canada.

Landry said back in 2003 that sovereignty would be a reality in 2005. What Landry and most separatists fail to realize is that they are fighting the wrong people. Tell a separatist to go back to France and he or she will reply, "But we are not like the French from France." What makes the Quebecois so unique that they no longer feel apart of France? Could it be that they are French-Canadians? Could it be that the freedoms they've enjoyed and the culture they've assimilated makes them what they are today?

Sovereignty in 2005, indeed. I believe that soon after both economies collapse and our new official language will be...American.

Free Will vs. Fate

Well the premise is simple…

Free-will states that we make all of our own choices with no outside intervention whatsoever...while predestination states that all of our choices aren't really choices at all

Ok, so it starts like this...

Are you familiar with the Many Worlds Hypothesis (think Sliders)?

Many World Hypothesis states that for every choice or path a piece of matter or energy can make, it not only chooses one path but rather all paths. In choosing all paths, it causes the universe to split and in each universe the piece of said matter or energy takes and different path.

If we accept this hypothesis...

Every choice you make causes a split, a spin off universe...you go to Starbucks and have to choose between a cappuccino and a coffee, that causes a split.

In theory there are an almost infinite number of people.... each person in each universe a fully conscious being capable of making decisions. An infinite number of copies of you making an infinite number of decisions…get your head around that.

But…

No one copy can make the exact same decision as another copy...if that were to happen then the split would cease and the universes would collapse back into one instead of two or more...not a bad thing necessarily...but I digress.

In any given situation, in any given place in space and time, there are an almost infinite number of choices for you to make, but I say almost infinite, because only the highly improbable can happen...not the impossible.

So to cut to the chase...

At any given moment you have an almost infinite number of people making an almost infinite number of decisions, but each decision that is used up is a path that cannot be used by you, the person in this universe. Thus it is other versions of you that are limiting your choices...so the choices you make aren't really choices at all...it is process of elimination

The cap off to this discussion is...


Scientists don't know why we are conscious...they have no idea how to replicate consciousness...artificial intelligent experiments have failed...because it is not the complexity of a system that makes intelligence...there is something going on in our brains at the quantum level. It could mean that we are subconsciously and simultaneously aware of ALL are different selves thus we influence and are influenced by all of them.

Quantum theory explains the same thing as Many World's but on the subatomic scale.

Quantum Particle Theory: a particle can only take one path in this universe, but if a myriad of paths are available, then not only can they take it, they must take it. The particle does this through the Splitting into many versions. We don't see this because of something called the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (briefly stated: you can know the speed, or the position of a particle...but never both at the same time...the act of observing the particle changes it's state). So the particle splits into many versions, fulfilling each path, but the act of observation collapses it back into one particle and one path, the path it took in this universe.

Particle physics, indeed physics of any kind requires an outside observer...the nature of our minds and consciousness makes it possible to collapse these possibilities into the single reality we experience.

Thus establishing the link between the nature of consciousness and quantum behaviour of particles. Applied on a larger scale to the Many World's hypothesis, also explains why we could have a link between our many different versions of ourselves, and how information can be passed between isolated universes.

So the next time you play the lottery, even if you don’t win, take solace in the thought that many different versions of you did win all because you chose to play.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Jessica Marie Lunsford

She was found after more than three weeks after she was snatched from her bedroom. She was found only 150 yards from her home.

What have we learned from this? That the people you need to watch are the people in your neighbourhood that see your kids everyday and have their schedules nailed down to a T. Any predator who hunts other people must be in a position to watch people and places. No predator wants to get caught so they'll hunt where they feel most comfortable, in their own backyard.

John Evander Couey was a 46 year old convicted child molester. A 46 year old piece of trash. Since he was a previous offender he probably thought that since he was weak once again he would go back to jail if she talked. So he did what any slow thinking neanderthal would do, he killed her, thinking his probelms would be solved.

He violated his probation by not telling officials that he was moving to that mobile home where he later snatched Jessica. It was as easy as that for him. Pick up and move and not tell anybody. Had he not killed anybody, how long would it have taken for anyone to notice that he violated his parole?

We need some common sense when paroling these high risk sexual offenders. These people are driven by the most basic of drives. If Catholic priests aren't immuned to these calls what makes these lowlife scum think they can resist? You can't expect to accept a pedophiles word that he will remain celebate because he (or she) has served their time. No amount of psychotherapy is going to quell those urges.

A viable solution? A twofold suggestion, first to microchip them with a GPS. That way their movements are tracked no matter where they go. If they remove the chip or jammed the reception, they immediately go back to jail. Second suggestion is chemical castration (or physical), get rid of the hormones that lead to these urges. They forfeited their rights to procreate when they decided that children were acceptable sexual surrogates. Chemical castration should be voluntary and felons that undergo the treatment should have their sentences reduced. Those that don't want to undergo it should get the maximum sentence (life preferably).

What happened to Jessica was a failure of the justice system. Sometimes serving your time isn't enough, there needs to be more focus on the "aftercare" when a felon gets out.

It's Dangerous being a North Korean

I was watching on CTV tonight about North Koreans being executed in front of a firing squad. Their crime? Trying to flee the country.

The North Korean government thinks it is a good idea to shoot these people to make an example out of them to prevent others from fleeing the country. Does anyone see the logic in this? You want your country men to stay so you kill them?

No doubt they were executed under the guise that they were committing some sort of treason. The type of treason that they would fear and loathe their own country so much that they would flee for their lives to escape i, not the kind that affects national security. There is something wrong with a government that has to exercise lethal force on those citizens that don't want to be there.

Many try to flee to China. If the Chinese authorities catch them they dpeort them back to North Korea, which is a virtual death sentence. China is no shining example of civil liberties itself, but to prefer fleeing to China over remaining in North Korea means that things are getting out of hand.

So why doesn't the US or the UN address this issue? They are concerned with NK abandoning their nuclear ambitions without giving thought to it's oppressed citizens. In a way, I hope NK rebuffs the six way talks and the US is left with no choice but to invade and overthrow their government. I doubt that it would happen though, because unlike Iraq the NK military has some serious weapons backing it up and even if they don't have many nuclear weapons yet (1 and counting), they could still manufacture dirty bombs and ionize thousands of US troops at a time (while inflicting even greater casualties among its own civilians, but as we have seen, the NK government doesn't care about it's citizens).

And last I checked, NK doesn't have any oil.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Right to Choose

It amuses me to no end to watch anti-abortion protesters, especially the men. A man who demands that we outlaw abortions and “save the children” is a man who does not know what the fuck he is about. An old saying is “ walk a mile in another’s shoes” is certainly appropriate. Until a man is forced to bear an unwanted child to term he cannot in good conscience prevent a termination. If a man is in a relationship with a woman and she wants to terminate the birth then the man has only one thing to say “Yes Dear”. If he was so keen on having offspring then he should be with a like-minded woman and stay the hell out of other women’s business. That being said a woman shouldn’t take precedence over a man if the man doesn’t want the child and never intended to have one. Women from time memorial have used the “baby” trap to ensnare a man. A woman, who wants to have a kid, should find a like-minded man, or be willing to give up claim on that man’s earnings. I think both a man and a woman should have the right to choose an abortion.

There is little basis to argue against the morality of abortion. The bible is mostly silent on the issue. The passages that are present regard the fetus as less than a full human. “Consecrate your firstborn unto me…” ring a bell? Remarkably, the most virulent opponents of abortion are the churches themselves. But the church has a history of opposing the wrong things. Like for instance, evolution, the heliocentric view of the solar system, the fact that the earth is round. It is more about control than about saving lives.

I’ve adopted a term for the pro-life group; I refer to them as pro-birth. The reason I refer to them as such is because they only care that the fetus makes it out of the woman’s body and after that it is no longer their problem. They seek to take away a woman’s options and offer no viable alternatives themselves. If they have their way, women will once again be at the mercy of men and all of the equalities they’ve fought for will vanish one by one. Why? The only reason women can sustain the freedoms they’ve gained is because they can compete on the same scale as a man can. They don’t have to become a mother if they do not choose, they don’t have to take maternity leave and cripple their career. Taking away abortion (and birth control in general, as most pro-birthers are opposed to anything that interferes with fertilization) takes away that choice. It wouldn’t be long until woman were once again viewed as second class citizens that are only working till they get a husband and can remain at home to be barefoot and pregnant. It would be a step backwards.

So what viable alternative exists for abortion? A popular idea I like to espouse is force all pro-birthers to adopt two unwanted children each. To make them take responsibility for the children that they are forcing women to bear into this world. Of course they would say that the pregnant women weren’t taking responsibility by having sex. I say to them, that these women are taking responsibility by having abortions. The alternative is to become a single mother and draw upon state welfare to supplement her income, or to give her child up for adoption after bearing it for 9 months, hardly a fulfilling prospect. Abortion isn’t an easy choice, not by any stretch of the imagination. To think otherwise is just ignorant.

So to return to my point, what is a viable option to abortion? Perhaps we should force the man and woman to take responsibility? Hardly makes for good parenting, does it? An unwanted child doesn’t just ruin one life, it ruins three lives. In fact I wouldn’t think it would be to far a stretch that people should be licensed to have children. If you’re not emotionally, mentally and financially ready to have kids you should be chemically sterilized (temporarily, fully reversible) until you are. That would solve the abortion debate once and for all. It wouldn’t take much, the government could offer some tax incentives to encourage undergoing the process and when you do have kids you get the child tax breaks. Would people consider that an infringement on their rights? I think it would be freeing. The religious right could no longer proselytize about the promiscuousness of the younger generation (ok I lied they’ll always bitch about that), but the issue of irresponsibility would be forever put to rest. You don’t have a kid until you get licensed.

Robert Blake

Robert Blake just got acquitted on his wife’s murder. So the jury doesn’t think he did it. I’ve lost my faith in jury’s. OJ is still walking around today and they still haven’t “caught” the guy who did it. Incidentally didn’t OJ say he wouldn’t rest until the real killer was caught? He must be hunting all over the golf course for this guy.

This is how much jury’s suck. A friend of mine had jury duty and almost all of the jurists were in favour of convicting this guy when my friend spoke up and said, “Hold up!” The evidence presented didn’t really lend credence to convicting the guy, but some brainiacs on the jury said they were going to convict solely on the basis that the prosecutor said the evidence was good enough and the guy was guilty. Hello, he is a prosecutor that is his fucking job to say that the defendant is guilty. He wouldn’t be a good prosecutor if he said that he had a shitty case now would he? Your job as a jurist is to examine the evidence and make a critical decision as to whether the defendant is guilty or not. Yes it takes some brainpower, but you should make the effort because you would want another jury to take the time and do the same for you if you were on trial. Thankfully my friend got the rest of them to think and argued for the evidence. The guy got off thanks to my friend, but he would’ve been convicted because the damn jury was too lazy to do their duty.

It brings up a good question though…if the police thought he did it, and the DA thought he did it and they are both wrong… who the hell killed Bonny Lee Bakley? In the space of time it took Robert to walk back into the restaurant to fetch a gun he “accidentally” left behind someone came along and popped a cap in his wife? Where are the other suspects then? Where are the motives? If it looks like shit and smells like shit, it is usually safe to say it is shit.

Mad Cow Conundrum

I just went grocery shopping.

It got me to wondering…Canada hadn’t been able to export beef to the US for over two years, but yet we still pay the same for beef now (adjusting for inflation) as we did before the ban began.

My question is, when a farmer sells a 500 pound cow for $1.80, how is it I’m still paying 20$ for a steak? Where is the supply and demand logic in that? Who exactly is fucking we the consumers and we the farmers? The meat packing plants? The retailers? Isn’t it price fixing if one or the other conspired together to keep beef prices high and make a killing (literally) in the meat market?

What should have happened is beef prices should have plummeted as farmers, meat packers and retailers tried to dump the excess beef, and other meats should have risen, as the demand for alternative sources of protein would have distributed the burden on them (the chickens, the pigs, the fish).

I remember reading awhile back that there was an inquiry into this, but so far no one has gone to jail, no blame was cast. Makes me wish sometimes that I were a vegetarian.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Good Quote

"It is an insult to God to believe in God. For on the one hand it is to suppose that he has perpetrated acts of incalculable cruelty. On the other hand, it is to suppose that he has perversely given his human creatures an instrument—their intellect—which must inevitably lead them, if they are dispassionate and honest, to deny his existence. It is tempting to conclude that if he exists, it is the atheists and agnostics that he loves best, among those with any pretensions to education. For they are the ones who have taken him most seriously."


-Galen Strawson, British philosopher, literary critic.

Dems and Libs Pay Heed

The divide in America is painfully clear. Republicans snipe at Democrats over every little thing and the Democrats retaliate in kind. The Red-Blue divide has never been more prominent. What has also become painfully obvious is that the Republicans and their evangelical allies hold the upper hand.

Democrats need to withdraw and regroup, they need a new strategy, but most of all they need to lay low.

Here is the reason why: Republicans are right when they say that the constant finger pointing and cries of fraud will drive the mainstream away from the democratic party. Republicans will seize upon any reason to demonize the Democratic Party; it is imperative that you don’t give them one.

I, too, have read the theories and conspiracy tales of a stolen election and although compelling, none of them are definitive! Republicans won’t accept anecdotal evidence, or links from websites that are not mainstream. They will not read it, and they will laugh at you and tell you to get a tin foil hat.

I feel your frustration but there is a better way. Cease your public displays of bitterness and hatred towards Bush and his administration; many people interpret this as hatred against America. This means public protests, blogs, and on message boards especially. Do not insult Republicans or Christians even if they insult you. Show only courtesy and win them over with kindness.

Continue to fight the good fight, but do so quietly and under the radar. Without concrete evidence of voter fraud (something that will stand up in a court of law) then Bush is your president, like it or not. You can’t change that for another 4 years. Focus your energies either into finding that evidence (quietly) or on election reforms (which are desperately needed). You can’t fight the Republicans on their own level, they are masters at mudslinging and if you fight fire with fire, you will lose even more than you have already lost.

Instead you must work on developing a good defense. Take the high road, defend yourself from slander but make no accusations yourself. The truth, if it is on your side, will win out. Focus on being the best human being you can be, be selfless and giving. The little guy remembers the people that intercede on their behalf, and to have that gratitude can be very rewarding.

Do not oppose the Republicans for the sake of opposing them, chose your battles wisely and be damn sure you can win decisively. People remember victories not losses.

Do not be baited by Republicans, I cannot stress this enough. They want to draw you out so they can twist your words. Never get into a political argument with a republican, they cease to hear the moment you open your mouth.

Be hard on yourself and harder on your party, harder than even the republicans could be. Only by acknowledging mistakes and swiftly correcting them will you gain the people’s respect. No party is perfect, but at least you can say with all honesty that you are striving to be better and do better for the people. If a Democrat is guilty, hang them out to dry and don’t look back.

Good PR can carry the day. Do not focus on what the Republicans are doing wrong, rather focus on what you are doing right. The public gets enough negative slants from the media without the Democrats adding to it.

Look for compromise when you can. The Democrats are in no position to be demanding anything. There is a holy war going on make no mistake, and like it or not the Bush administration has dragged half the country along for the ride. By trying to work together you’ll be in a better position to salvage what is left after four years elapses.

Never lose focus of who you are and what you represent and never be ashamed to tell people when asked that you are a democrat. What you represent is a better tomorrow and a stronger united America and that is nothing to be ashamed of.

Essay to America

It has been several months since the election happened and still the taunting and the insults have not slowed down on either side. Republicans favourite words are lies, spin and bullshit, while democrat’s chant rings of liars, cheaters and stealers.

You’ve both lost sight of what made your country great. At one time America was a beacon of light for the rest of the world. America stood for freedom, stood up to those that would trample on the free world through force. America meant something.

Then 9/11 happened. That is the day that the cancer in the image of America began to grow. America become less about freedom and winning over enemies by being a living example to the world of what freedom and democracy could do and more about security and racial profiling, looking over their shoulders for terrorists who could be anywhere and were everywhere.

America had the sympathy of the world when 9/11 happened. You were a fallen comrade who the rest of us were only too honored to help out after all you’ve done for us. We didn’t question when you went into Afghanistan, indeed we went with you to bring a madman to justice. He eluded us all. That did nothing for your growing need for security.

America then fell to bickering amongst it’s own citizens, with the Democrats calling Republicans murderers, Republicans retuning the favour by labeling Democrats traitors. America, instead of bringing democracy through peace, began a plan to bring democracy at the end of the barrel of a gun. Forced democracy is no democracy at all. Remember how your democracy got started. Your early countrymen had such a hunger for freedom and liberation that they fought for democracy, not against it. It wasn’t forced on you; you adopted it of your own free will after your victory. It was that will to be free laid the foundation for great advances in civil liberties. The end of segregation, women’s rights, human rights, the end of discrimination, all lofty goals to aspire to and attain. It helped build your country’s reputation when other countries still didn’t know the meaning of the word liberty.

Today America is a country that stands divided against itself. Terror is on the verge of winning, ladies and gentleman. Not because terror has more guns or bullets, or men or martyrs, but because they have sullied the American dream and turned the greatest champions of freedom and liberty against it. America’s own citizens are now terror’s weapons.

Terrorists can never touch a happy and peaceful people. They only have power through fear. 9/11 was the vehicle and now America is infected with fear. Osama knew that he could never fight the American military machine, but he could trick the US into trying to stomp out terrorism worldwide, forcing them to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations. Osama always intended to embolden the Muslim population against the US and starting a war between the US and a Muslim country was just the way to do it. Some would say that there are more terrorist in training now then ever, because to the Muslim world, the US is perceived to be a threat to their way of life like never before.

When republicans call down democrats, when atheists deride Christians, when whites insult blacks, when gays heckle straights, you are showing the world that you are not united behind your country. Your intolerance towards each other speaks of even greater intolerance towards the rest of the world. Such intolerance also betrays the very foundations upon which your country was built. All personal issues about the election aside, you are all Americans. Deeper than that, before race, religion and political affiliation, you are human beings. Find your common ground again.