Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Usefulness (or not) of Armed Insurrections

Here is one of the scariest videos I have seen in a while, and there are several copies on youtube, not just on the Anarchy channel.  Not because of the outright violence, but because of what this seemingly sweet young girl is advocating, and the powerful propaganda controlling her mind.  (e.g. equating gun ownership with the safety of air bags)

I am quite sure that sweet "Josie the Outlaw" does not have any real experience of war, revolution or anarchy, or she might reconsider her opinions.  I'm not even sure that she understands the meaning of "outlaw" other than as a cool youtube nickname.

Josie the Outlaw  Why good people need to be armed.

I will admit that I have no experience of violent revolution or anarchy either.  But both history and current events tells us violent armed revolution is quite unappealing.  Not something to be encouraged unless the situation has already become so bad that it can't be any worse.  I can give a few examples in recent years.  Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa show us that there is a tendency to atrocities, and they occur on both sides of the struggle.  There was a documentary about the Liberian insurrection on PBS two days ago.  Also, there is anarchy in Syria and Iraq right now, so plenty of reports to give you an idea what life is like during an armed insurrection.

In case you imagine that armed insurrections are more polite and glorious in America than in Africa, you need to study some history that has not been cleaned up for high school textbooks.

Usually armed insurrections do not really start until thousands of people have been killed by the current regime, or unless there is mass starvation.  Most people realize that they really would prefer to live under rule of law, even if it is pretty bad, rather than the absolute horrors of an insurrection, where not just thousands, but hundreds of thousands will die.  Millions more will live in refugee camps after losing everything they had.

So what is going on in America today, that sweet Josie the Outlaw thinks an armed insurrection may be a good thing?  Yes, the national debt is quite high.  Yes, some people are corrupt, and make too much money off the backs of the taxpayers.  But are Americans close to mass starvation yet?  Are groups of Americans being put in death camps yet?  Do secret service people pick up suspects in the middle of the night, never to be seen again?  If not, then conditions are not ripe yet for armed insurrection.

Does Josie have an estimate of how many people will die in a serious armed insurrection?  If not, I would suggest that you might expect about a million before its over.  And that will not necessarily make America a better place, as many of the best people will die, and many of the most vile, and hateful people will still be there - for they exist on both sides of any insurrection, and even seem to rise to the top as the insurrection become more cruel and bloody.

My own advice would be to cool it with the gun advocacy for a while.  Maybe stop watching Fox News and check the dictionary instead for the meaning of tyranny.  And more than anything stop thinking that there are "good people" and "bad people".  Hitler and Stalin both believed that they were only killing the bad people.  Turned out the bad people were them.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

We Had a Cold Day

Wall of snow approaches Buffalo NY

Yesterday was the first day I had to shovel snow this winter.  It was also -7c with a strong wind.  I was all set to stay in the house after supper, but Mary Ann wanted to go to the movie, which was "Emptying the Skies", a documentary about bird poaching being shown at the Princess Cinema.  As usual, she wanted to walk, in order to save the world from the global warming that would be caused by the carbon dioxide emissions from our car.  So I dressed up warmly, and then waited for Mary Ann to finish up by putting on 3 pairs of gloves.  As I pointed out to her (jokingly of course), that the top layer alone of her handwear was rated down to -30c, and all three layers together would probably be too warm even if we were on an expedition to the south pole.  She countered that she was just getting over a cold, and needed to stay warm.  I did not counter with "Why are we walking to the theatre then?".

Today I saw in the news that all the US mainland states had freezing temperatures on Tuesday.  Buffalo NY had places with over 1 metre of snow.  And of course the usual comments on the news items about "Well, I guess this proves to the eco-weenies that global warming does not exist".

I guess it would really help the cause of the Global Warming people, if we had +30c temperatures all over Canada yesterday, but the Global Warming models show only about a 3c rise in average world wide temperatures over a period of 50-100 years.  Meanwhile, our front yard can warm and cool by 10c on any given day.

Why is there so much wilful ignorance over the case of global warming?  I am quite sure that most people have some kind of opinion one way or another, while very few show any understanding of the science.  If most people are smart enough to superficially understand how a car works, they should be able to figure out that "average" world wide temperature is not the same thing as seasonal changes in the northern hemisphere. Most Canadians know that a car can freeze in the winter.  You need to have antifreeze in the coolant in order to prevent the car from freezing and ruining the engine.  There are no "deniers" claiming that cars can't freeze.  Funny thing is, that if a car "freezes", the engine is not destroyed by the cold, it is destroyed by localized overheating.  Assuming people can accept this paradoxical fact, why do they still claim that cold weather proves global warming does not exist?

I think we should try to apply some of the same sophisticated understanding that we have of our cars to the planet.  Think of it this way: The planet is a complicated machine, just like a car. The main difference being that all 9 billion people need to share the one planet.  Since we can't even live without our planet, we need to be in agreement if some maintenance needs to be done, or if something is happening that needs attention.  Scientists are pointing out that increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere are warming up the planet. We don't need name-calling and gloating about freezing temperatures, we need understanding of how we can deal with the problem.  We need to be cautious in our approach, rather than reckless. And there is nothing more reckless than letting the oil companies influence our approach to this problem.  That's kind of like putting tobacco companies in charge of our health care.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Is the Movie "Interstellar" Liberal or Conservative? (Subliminal Messages)

 I suspect that Interstellar's hidden message may be conservative, despite the seemingly liberal image of the Earth's environment collapsing.

This is not a review of the movie, it is an analysis of the hidden messages in the movie, and whether it is mainly conservative or liberal.  So there will be spoilers below.  And by the way, I don't think that the bias in the message is severe enough to spoil the movie for anyone.  I barely noticed it at the time.

On the face of it, we have America unable to feed itself, with the return of giant dust storms like the 1930's.  But more than just America, in the movie "Interstellar", the entire world is in the same state of environmental decline, and humans will not be able to survive another generation.

This could  be a liberal message because Liberals believe in global warming, and apparently, conservatives don't.  But actually, I think it is made clear in the movie that this destruction of the Earth is caused by blight or diseases ruining the crops.  If you are a die-hard Conservative, you can then assume that dead crops may be causing these dust storms, and not global warming.  However, this argument can be taken either way.  For example the severity of the Mountain Pine Beetle's recent destructiveness may be linked to climate change.

I hope I'm not misrepresenting the conservative point of view, but I think the Conservative point of view is sometimes stated like this: "we do not need to be careful of the environment, because human ingenuity will find a way to save us no matter how much destruction we cause."

I will put a quote and a link here to a conservative website doing a similar political analysis of this movie:

"there isn’t the slightest doubt that Nolan’s view of climate change is that it is simply another of the many environmental situations that man is equipped to cope with. In the context of the film, this means extreme actions that make for cinematically exciting scenes, but on an allegorical level Nolan is saying, “Mankind has the creativity to respond to crises, even global ones."

Is it truly a conservative viewpoint, that if the Earth is failing, we do not need to save the whole planet, we simply need save Humans, probably by getting us off planet Earth? And is it truly a liberal attitude that we need to preserve our planet because we believe that Humans are just evolved monkeys and therefore we are not smart enough to invent a way to survive? If so, then this movie's hidden message really is conservative. Because in the movie, mankind does discover two ways to survive beyond planet Earth.  At the end we see these giant spaceships, complete with farms, where people are living with no need for planet Earth.  And the movie also presents the possibility of colonizing one of the planets on the other side of the worm hole.

As a liberal watching the movie, I admit that I was simply not convinced that either of these survival plans was really possible.   I guess if I was a conservative, I may look at the movie thinking those survival strategies are reasonable, and that the destruction of the Earth is the really unlikely scenario. But it's the ending of the movie that points to the hidden message being truly conservative.  Those huge orbiting space colonies are the result of the scientific work by Murphy, solving the riddle of gravity, and thereby allowing humans to build these giant structures and lift them off the earth without much trouble.  But as far as I'm concerned, overcoming gravity is no more likely than black magic or holy miracles at this time.

Then, in case gravity was not defeated, "plan B", was to fly through a worm hole to another habitable planet.  But Plan B would not allow any more than a handful of existing humans  to survive. Those handful of humans that take this trip could take human genetic material to the new planet, and so regenerate the human race again, similar to Noah and the Ark.  Again, I am not aware of any theories that humans, or anything, really could get through a worm hole if they really exist.  So I think both Plan A and Plan B are just cop outs without any real scientific basis.

So we come back to planet Earth, and the big question: is it worth preserving or should we simply exploit our planet to the maximum then bug out?  What I find strangest is that preserving the Earth has become a Liberal point of view in recent years, while developing technology to escape the Earth used to be the Liberal point of view.  In the past, Conservatives were really all about "conserving" and liberals were all about scientific discoveries (such as evolution, DNA, nuclear physics, and the Earth is not flat).  Ironically, the people most intent on self destructing planet Earth today are not the scientists, they are the religious nuts who believe the end of times are at hand, and their political allies, the Conservatives.  But the theoretical scientists are the ones who have the best chance of inventing the technology needed to save us, and they are mostly liberal, working outside the corporate culture of short term profitability.