Global Warming

Germane to Multiple Things I have Been Reading Lately….

Posted on February 27, 2012. Filed under: Atheism, Global Warming, Politics, Religion, Science |


There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been.  The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”

-Isaac Asimov

That about sums it up.

Via Facebook (Thanks Oscar!)

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Death Of A Statesman: Thoughts On Jack Layton.

Posted on August 23, 2011. Filed under: Atheism, Atheist Ethics, Canadian Politics, Global Warming, Personal, Politics, Social Justice |

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

-Jack Layton, In his last letter to Canadians.

Yesterday morning Canada lost a great voice for social justice.

Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, died surrounded by friends and family- not of the prostate cancer he very publicly battled over the past few years- but of a new cancer that he was diagnosed with just one month ago.

Jack’s legacy can not be overstated.  His tireless work during his 30 years in public office of fighting for the poor and homeless- first as a Toronto City Councillor and later as an MP and Leader of the NDP harken back to the days when politicians were guided into politics out of principled idealism to make Canada better for Canadians.  In an age where politicians seem to care about staying the course, Jack asked us to abandon the well worn trail and search together for a better path.  He sought public office not just to win but to be a voice for those most affected by policies and most disaffected by politics.

Jack laboured his entire career for those who needed a voice the most.  He was an advocate for Aboriginal issues, and helped craft the Government letter of apology for the horrors of residential schools.  He was instrumental in starting the White Ribbon Campaign in response to the Montreal Massacre in 1991- raising awareness of violence against women.  He offered up his home as equity to keep the campaign running, and its first headquarters was the bedroom of Jack’s son, Micheal, now a Toronto city Councillor himself.   He was instrumental in putting Toronto at the forefront of AIDS activism, becoming one of the greatest political champions of the issue. He lobbied Council for a Gay and Lesbian Pride Day in Toronto as early as 1989. His advocacy in Parliament of Same-sex Marriage is no doubt the reason Canadians today can boast of our strides in social equity.

In Toronto, Jack fought and won the battle to make the city one of the most accessible in North America for cyclists.  His commitment to the simple ways we can help the environment will have a lasting impact in Toronto in particular and Canada as a whole.  He was one of the architects behind the Toronto Atmospheric Fund, which diverted monies from the sale of City land toward green initiatives.  His legacy includes wind power initiatives in Toronto, and Enwave, an environmentally sustainable energy company half owned by the City of Toronto- a company that uses Deep Lake Water Cooling to air condition highrises in the city center.

I think that, in politics as in life, we need to be guided by an ideal and govern in reality.

Perhaps the most important thing Jack did was show Canadians that we could be a community of equals, people who work together and for each other; that we could be a country proud of how we treat each other- that social justice and equity were not Utopian pipe dreams, but responsible and attainable goals.  He convinced enough of us that we could do good to make his party the official opposition in the last election.  He did this with a party that was, when he took the helm in 2003, a marginalized socialist labour party that was a perennial also-ran in the Federal landscape.  Who knows what he could have accomplished if his life were not cut short.

The last week or two, I had been mulling over writing a post about what I want to see in my political leaders in response to some of the talk with Americans about the upcoming 2012 elections.  I think if I had have thought long and hard about it, I would have told them to look up Jack Layton.  I think that, in politics as in life, we need to be guided by an ideal and govern in reality.  Jack did this better than anyone, and he made both look possible.  There is always an ideal- a society that exemplifies all those things that are best in humanity- but the real world doesn’t always make it simple or practical to get there.  When you look back at a career that spans almost my entire lifetime, Jack never sacrificed his vision- he never lost sight of Shangri-La.  He was always moving in the direction of Better- always inching toward the best city- the best Country- he could give his fellow Canadians.  Yes, there were realities.  Yes, there were stumbling blocks.  It would be so easy to just lose sight of where you are going and settle for what you have.  The great leaders get it.  They see the reality and ask how they can shape it, they see the stumbling block and ask how they might remove it.

  An Ideologue goes charging blind headlong toward the precipice, a Politician tries to keep us happy on our own side, a Leader asks how we might bridge the gap.  Jack was a leader. 

Here is to you, Jack.

Here is to Heroes, those whose spirit transcends mortality.
Here is to Leaders, those whose determination brings us together.

Jack Layton: July 18 1950- August 22 2011

Here is to Visionaries, those whose eyes are fixed on a better tomorrow.
Here is to Great Men, those whose ranks have lost another.
My Hero. A Leader, a Visionary, a Great Man,
history can do you no justice- it is up to us-
to make our future a testament to your life,
to your vision, to your spirit.
Here, my friends, is to Heroes,
and a man who saw a Hero in us all.
I’ll miss you Jack.



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A Year in Review: Misplaced Grace

Posted on January 4, 2011. Filed under: Astrology and Related Bunk, Atheism, Global Warming, Humour, Personal, Politics, Religion, Science, Trolls, You're Not Helping |

This has been a fun first year of blogging.  I graduated from a chronic lurker and occasional commenter on other blogs to having my own platform with which to discuss those topics that really interest me.  I want to give new readers a bit of a review of my first year of blogging so that everyone can catch up on issues they may find interesting but missed the first time around.  I also want to take this opportunity to go over some of my upcoming plans for posts and projects in the new year so that I can get feedback to help shape what direction I go with this blog and it’s content.

Misplaced Grace had it’s first post back on June 10th of 2010.   After the required “Welcome to My Blog” post, I chose Anthropogenic Global Warming as my first subject for a full post.  My WordPress widget tells me that that first post received a grand total of 5 views, the first one being a month after this blog started. Not exactly a winner out of the gates.   The first post that ever received a comment, as well as the first post that ever got a significant number of hits was about Andrew Rosenberg, a teenager who got in over his head by e-mailing PZ Myers.  One of the comments turned out to be from Andrew himself, and this prompted two more posts where I tried to answer his questions about evolution, religion, and science.  These posts turned out to be among my most popular, as well as contributing to many new pageviews long after the posts were published.   The You’re Not Helping debacle got me the busiest single day of traffic ever to my blog, and still gets regular hits.  My Apologetics and Apostasy series came next, followed by a sometimes rocky exchange with a theist when I commented on her blog and linked a post that turned into a great and thought provoking conversation.  My long and drawn out argument with astrologers over at Lousy Canuck became the impetus for some cross posts as well as a challenge with James Alexander that has not yet come to fruition.  My commentary on the Wikileaks/Assange rape case finished off the year with a bang.  I joined Planet Atheism this fall, and it has certainly helped.  So here is a breakdown of my first year of blogging, both statistically and personally, with added commentary.

Misplaced Grace 2010

Total posts: 40– This breaks down to about 6 or 7 a month, a number I would like to increase in the New Year.  My goal is to have 2 or 3 posts a week.  So hopefully my 2012 New Year message will have a total around 110-150 posts for the year.

Total Pageviews: About 2800– That averages to about 70 views per post, and I would be pretty happy to keep that pace.  My goal for 2011 then would be somewhere around 10,000 views.

Total Comments: 215– A bit deceptive because I reply to almost every comment, so let’s half that number and say 107.  That is less than three comments per post, and the number I would most like to change.  I need to make posts that demand feedback; something that I have had trouble doing thus far….

Busiest single day: October 6th, 2010, 69 views–  WOW! I remember that day and it was a real high.  That number seems really low, but to me it was really exciting.  I would love to get over 100 views in a single day this year.

Most viewed post:  Polaris Software:  A Critical Analysis–  Other than my homepage, this post has generated the most views at 292.  Every one of my astrology posts has had more than 50 views, making them pretty popular.

Least Viewed Post: Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Denial of Science– Only 5 views.  Sad, really.  I kind of like that post…..

My Favorite Post:Does Righteousness Recuse One From A Rape Investigation–  I really like this post and I really liked writing it.  I also enjoyed the discussion that ensued.

What To Expect In 2011

Here is a list of posts I have been sitting on for the coming year, as well as some projects I have planned.  Commentary is appreciated.

1. The Ian Juby Project: I plan to pick apart some YouTube clips from Ian Juby of the  Portable Creation Museum Project.  This guy lives in my backyard, just down the road in the Ottawa Valley in Ontario.  He runs a traveling creation museum that aims to spread creationist propaganda to any group willing to pay his expenses.  Lots of lies, half truths, and misrepresentations.  I want to address as many as I can, to offer a resource for people being shoveled his brand of bullshit.

2. My Conversation with Jehovah’s Witnesses: I have been getting these people at my door lately and want to make the most of it.  I find that for a group of people who go door to door trying to sell their religion, not many of us really know what exactly they believe.  I am going to take one for the team and sit them down for a series of conversations, which I will blog about here.  Any submissions of questions would be appreciated, as well as suggestions for how I should format the exchange.  I am kind of excited about this project, I am really interested about where JW’s stand on a host of issues.

3.  Evolution and Science Debates in Meatspace:  I have a creationist friend who is getting a basic cable television project developed on the intersection of faith and science.  I  will be a contributor and presenter in parts of this series and I hope to keep everyone abreast of developments as they emerge.

4.  Expanded Canadian Content:  I want to try and focus on Canadian issues and content in the coming year.  This will hopefully include a few more posts on Canadian history and politics, as well as some current events stories.  An election is looming, and this should provide fodder for more posts with Canadian content.

5. Tying up Loose Ends:  I had some posts this year where I wanted to do more research or work and have fresh posts on the topic.  In some cases I made commitments that remain unfulfilled.  I hope to sew these up this year, with an end to my Apologetics and Apostasy series, a meeting of my challenge to Polaris astrology software and other subjects.  (more…)

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Anthropogenic Global Warming and the Denial of Science

Posted on June 10, 2010. Filed under: Global Warming, Religion, Science |

First off, I need to declare my bias on this issue:

I believe with 99.99% certainty that Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is both factual and occurring.  I also believe that to deny this fact makes you ignorant, impressionable, or an idiot.

I don’t make this statement lightly.  My brother, a university educated, irreligious, otherwise intelligent guy, denies the human link to AGW.  This really bothers me because of my declared bias above.  After many arguments with my brother, I fear that he is a bit of all three.  I’ll get to why I say that later, as well as his specific reasons for denying AGW, but first let me spell out the three general afflictions of climate change deniers.

  1. IgnorantThis is likely the most forgivable of the three afflictions.  Many people who deny the science of climate change just don’t have all of the information necessary to make an informed opinion.  I think most laymen can be forgiven for finding the subject a little overwhelming or boring or both, making it difficult to take the time to arm themselves with enough information.  They then default to the argument of “there just is not enough proof out there so I choose not to believe it for now.”  There are some really great tools out there for the layman to inform themselves with, my favorite being Peter Sinclair’s (AKA Greenman) Climate Denial Crock of the Week channel on YouTube.
  2. Impressionable– This affliction bleeds into the first one a bit but has some of it’s own distinct traits.  Many folks not armed with enough information to make an informed opinion start looking for information.  Where things go wrong is when they turn to the wrong sources to get their information.  Fox News is not a good source guide to global warming.  The mainstream media in general is not a good source guide to global warming.  Given the wrong information, many people start droning on about a Medieval Warming Period, or how in the 1970’s  scientists predicted an ice age or that it snowed in Washington DC this past winter.  These arguments are easily knocked down if one takes the time to do your homework.  This group of people are also the ones who say that scientists don’t agree on AGW, another great misrepresentation of the facts.
  3. Idiots– This is the classification that is going to invite some hate mail.  I reserve this title for those that don’t believe in AGW because they distrust scientists.  Alternately, they believe that a grand conspiracy by the tree-huggers and the “carbon credit industry” is driving the science of AGW.  If you believe either of these two premises, then you are most certainly an idiot.  Many of these type of people are not surprisingly also creationists.   I suppose when you are willing to buy into a worldwide conspiracy to undermine biblical literalism with evolution, or science being so unbelievably wrong about human origins; denying the science is that much easier.  It is equally likely that creationists desperately want the science of climate change to be wrong.  “If science could be wrong on AGW, it could be wrong on evolution.”  Most of us know the false logic in that kind of thinking, but you can see how tantalizing that possibility seems to the “goddidit”s.

This brings me back to my brother.  To summarize his argument:

  • The scientists are finding false correlations.  Ex: The lack of Pirates is just as likely a cause of global warming.
  • We still lack sufficient information to make conclusions, how can science know anything for sure?

This shows me that he is uninformed (ignorant) to the plethora of data scientists have available to them, misinformed (impressionable) as to the history of climate fluctuations, and chloroformed (an idiot) in that he honestly believes that science can’t really “know” anything.*

What keeps these AGW deniers going is that it’s harder sometimes to argue against idiots than the informed.

*This phrasing is borrowed (ironically) from an episode of City Confidential I once watched on A&E- the person quoted: Rev. Jerry Falwell.  See, even fundies can enrich us sometimes!

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