Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Volt’s Reason to Be

The Volt’s Reason to Be - By Henry Payne - Planet Gore - National Review Online

While I'm not as opposed to the concept of a Chevy Volt as others, I just have one question for the manufacturers of such a product.

Why did you choose a small platform first to deliver this concept?

Let me explain.

The normal process for engineering has seemed to be to develop a concept and then scale it down for every day use. It was mere years ago that computers needed a whole room to contain the computing power of one laptop computer today. Computing capacity doubles every 18 months or so as scientists find more and more ways to fit more capacitors on a one inch chip. All manner of consumer electronics prove the case - from TVs to video game systems, from cell phones to treadmills.

And this approach seems logical - when you are developing a concept, size doesn't usually matter - all the developer wants is see the concept to workable application, he/she is not interested in applying the concept to the smallest possible package available right from the get go.

Except when it comes to electric vehicles, it seems.

Let us be clear about one thing - the technology in the Volt really isn't anything new. Diesel-electric train engines have existed for the better part of a century, and have proven that the concept works, so too with diesel-electric submarines. What I would have expected, given how things advance, is that the technology would have been scaled down to fit into heavy equipment where space and aesthetics aren't an issue, and then scale down again to fit into trucks and SUVs where they can make the most difference on ANY emissions in the long run.  After the technology is proven in those platforms would it be scaled down into a size where vehicles already regularly get in the 40 to 60 mpg range just through weight and aerodynamics. 

THAT is a progression I would like to have seen, because honestly, right now all the Volt is is a concept car that was put into production, and that will lose GM money with every sale without government subsidies.  Sure, I get that the more of these things out there, and the more experience there is making them, the cheaper they'll get, but in the end, does it really need a 40 mile battery at highway speeds?  Did it really have to be fit into a subcompact?  Was this really the advancement that would do the most good?

I think I'll wait until they put the technology into a better size.

Dark Knights and the Call of Authentic Conscience

Dark Knights and the Call of Authentic Conscience

This may or may not have any meaning without the context of the chapter before it but I thought that this excerpt was particularly interesting, this is from the book I've been trying to finish reading for the last couple months, Batman and Philosophy from chapter 15, Dark Knights and the call of Conscience, this chapter is by Jason J. Howard, the quote in the excerpt is from Martin Heidegger'sBeing and Time

Batman is ready to die. He has come to terms with the inevitability of death, yet this alone does not make him authentic; many people are ready to die for a cause. So what can Batman, a "mere" comic book character, teach us about being authentic? One of the crucial points to keep in mind is that Batman's choice to risk his freedom on an impossible cause is not an escape from the reality of the world, but an affirmation of it. Batman does not seek to convert people to his cause, nor does he begrudge those who choose to fight crime in other, more traditional ways. Likewise, there is no completion to his quest, no proper ending, and no salvation, but only a continual reappraisal of his own choices. In accepting his choices in life as his own unique fate, Batman reveals himself as someone who has accepted the world for what it is, with all its absurdity and sorrow, while nonetheless remaining tolerant and compassionate toward everyone except those whose actions end in senseless violence.
Batman does not stand against this onslaught of senseless violence on the basis of an explicit moral code or religions creed, but rather from the resolute acknowledgment of his own freedom to accept death, which is the authentic con science. It is this freedom to accept life in all its perplexing ambiguity, and to decide for himself how to deal with it, that makes Batman who he is, not his costume. Batman lives in his decision "to be," acknowledging the reality of his own anxiety while anticipating the nothingness that haunts each of us:

"Anticipation allows Dasein to understand that that potentiality-for-being in which its ownmost Being is an issue, must be taken over by Dasein alone.... Dasein can be authentically itself only if it makes this possible for itself of its own accord. . . . When, by anticipation, one becomes free for one's own death, one is liberated from one's lostness in those possibilities which may accidentally thrust themselves upon one; and one is liberated in such a way that for the first time one can choose among the factical possibilities lying ahead."

This "freedom towards death," as Heidegger calls it, is the distinguishing feature of the authentic conscience. To say someone is free to anticipate their own death does not imply a death wish, nor is it some morbid fixation on "the end." It is the penetrating realization that the point of existence is something each of us must come to grips with as individuals by continually reaffirming the meaning of our own mortality. It is this attitude of authenticity that ensures that our lives are as transparent as possible in terms of who we are, freeing us from the "illusions of the 'they'" and their obsession with familiarity, tranquility, and distraction. This is not easy. It requires that we admit our own vulnerability, along with rejecting any kind of fatalistic determinism or escapism, accepting that "to be" is to be anxious about who we are.
If we assume people are simply "born" with a conscience, rather than struggling to have one, as Heidegger explains, then there is no room for people to exercise their freedom to authentically make their own decisions in life. This does not mean that having an authentic' conscience entails abandoning morality. On the contrary, it prevents morality from becoming another kind of conformism where the exercise of free and spontaneous moral judgment is exchanged for blind commitment and intolerance.
Of course, Batman is not the only example of an authentic conscience, but he is certainly an instructive one. Moreover what makes him so instructive is the existential complexity of his identity, and not simply the fact that he is a superhero. It is his willingness to come to grips with his past, his rejection of all facile excuses, and his passion to deal with reality on its own terms that distinguish Batman from the moral fanatic, and that make his type of heroism so significant. As Batman himself puts it, "You play the hand you're dealt. . . . What I am, I am of my own choice. I don't know if I'm happy, but I'm content."

The choice to lead an authentic life brings with it some dark nights, yet this is the price we have to pay to lead a life without delusion. Batman's acceptance of this sustains his heroism. He relies on his own will to have an authentic conscience, not some superhuman power. Consequently, the purpose of his cape and cowl is not to hide who he is. Rather, it stands as testament to the choices he has made and the man he has become. Although we cannot literally emulate the Batman and the risks he takes—after all, he is a comic book hero—his internal battles are by no means alien to most of us. He is a person struggling to affirm the weight of his own choices and lead an authentic existence. In a world where mindless conformism is rampant, ignorance is the order of the day, and fear is our greatest taskmaster, Batman's call to conscience is an example of how our willingness to confront the meaning of our own existence can also be the path to personal liberation.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rest in Peace Leslie, you will be missed

What James Cameron Can’t Tell You about the Oil Sands

What James Cameron Can’t Won't Tell You about the Oil Sands

This is the best summary of the Oil Sands and the impact of work in the oil sands that I have ever seen. It may be geared towards showing the Oil Sands in a positive light, but given the amount of negative information out there, it's good that there's some positive fact based information on the Oil Sands available.

One of the things that strikes home to me is this statement by Mr. Cameron:

As one final example I will let Mr. Cameron’s own words to MSNBC hit the nail on the head. “[T]here’s an opportunity for all of North America to be weaned to some extent off of OPEC oil so that’s why it makes me very nervous… we need more science… we have the capacity for ecological disaster here on an unprecedented scale…”

The thing is that the Oil Sands IS an ecological "disaster" on an unprecedented scale. By their very definition, it is oil infused sand. It is a danger to wildlife and humans alike if left how it is. The clean up process, which just happens to take that oil-infused sand and process the oil out of it, is cleaning up the oil sands, and doing so in a way that is commercially viable without government support. Why WOULDN'T we support it?

Tony Blair Versus Christopher Hitchens

Wow I love all the Rider stuff popping up on Oxygentax, very cool. But I watched a debate last night with Tony Blair and Christopher Hitchens, Tony Blair is pro religion and faith, where Christopher Hitchens is con or anti religion and faith. It is a great debate, though very long, if you have or wish to make 2 hours to watch it then by all means do so, it was a lot of work to get all 7 videos into my other blog so I am just going to post the link to that here.

hope you enjoy

Friday, November 26, 2010

agnosticism isn't a mild version of atheist

I have noticed lately that a lot of people claim to be agnostic rather than atheist, the idea being that atheist are anti-god, anti-religion and just generally hardcore people, while agnostics are open to the idea that god exists but don't really know so don't really believe. It paints those of an agnostic ideal in a very moderate light when compared to an atheist. While sometimes it's nice to be considered moderate, in this case I don't think it's accurate.
First off, the definition of atheist basically refers to someone who believes there is no god or gods, while the definition of agnostic refers to someone who believes that questions about the existence of god or anything metaphysical are unknowable or unanswerable. To me this says that an atheist really only denies the existence of god or an afterlife, while an agnostic denies the existence of anything or even the knowledge of anything that isn't part of reality.

Now I'm gonna steal a quote from a friend of mine that was part of a facebook debate.

"For what it's worth, agnosticism, in my view, consists in rejecting the question "is there a creator" as, not just unanswerable, but unimportant. If there is a creator, then the universe exists just as it does right now. If, going back through time, there is a literally endless chain of evens - and no creator - then the universe exists just as it does right now. There is no explanatory or predictive difference; the question results in pure speculation with no possible answer in principle. "

I like this because not only does an agnostic view these questions as unknowable, they view them as irrelevant because it doesn't apply to the future or even change anything about the present.

So doesn't the agnostic view seem less like a moderate atheist, and more like the hardcore view, it does to me.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

CFL This is Our League- Full Version

Saskatoon churches back co-op grocery store

CBC News - Saskatchewan - Saskatoon churches back co-op grocery store

All I can ask is what took them so long?

What? You mean that something good for the poor can actually be done WITHOUT the government's help?

Huh. Wow. Fascinating.

Okay, all sarcasm aside, it's good that these Saskatoon congregations are getting behind this project, and it's also good that it only has $500,000 left to raise (considering when last I mentioned it, they had about $2,000,000 to go).  I hope that they raise the remainder quickly.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

If it saves just one life

I'm going to preface this by saying that YES, I am quite aware that Canada does not have exactly the same thing, and that I'm aware the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply in Canada.

Still, the concept is the same, and that concept is that at some point people should use common sense when they are doing their job.

Does it make sense that security personnel in airports throughout the "free" West force random people to endure ever more difficult or intrusive procedures simply because someone has been able to sneak a dangerous substance on the plane?

To that end, I have three suggestions that the government might consider:

1.     Do as Tom suggests in his comments section - have a little explosive detonation chamber that EVERYONE walks through one at a time before they board a plane.  Between that and a metal detector, that should be all the security you need to prevent a mad man from blowing up a plane.

2.     Everybody fly naked.  I know, I know - whacky thought, and not necessarily an appealing one if you are flying with a bunch of people you don't want to see naked, but if you do this, then the only thing you will get on board the aircraft will have to be hidden in an uncomfortable place, and if it's a bomb, it likely won't be big enough to do much damage.

3.     Profile - NOT RACIALLY.  Match the profile of a terrorist against the passengers and see what jumps out.  Person flying alone? One way? Paying cash for their ticket? Acting extremely nervous or extremely calm at the airport? AND buying their ticket last minute?  Please step out of line.  It's as simple as that.  This person could be any race, any color, any country of origin (ESPECIALLY the last part with the "rise" of home grown terrorism).  So profile them based on what they did and how they're acting.  How hard is that?

In the end, every new "security" measure is designed to inconvenience each passenger more and more, and in that respect, terrorists have already won.  The only way to stop that is to peel the layers back and get back to doing what makes sense again.

Because if it saves just one life....

The Universe isn't doing us any favors


The universe is a big random place and our spot in it is pretty insignificant, did the universe really keep track of me all these years and then just when I needed it gave me what I wanted or did I make choices in my life and learn from my mistakes. Is the universe going to give me the tools I need to be successful or do I already possess them and just need to figure out how to use them. I feel like when you give the universe credit for the lessons you learned it takes the credit away from yourself, and vice versa when it comes to mistakes, if the universe keeps throwing things at you till you get it, did you make the mistake of choosing incorrect behavior over and over, is it your responsibility or is it the universe's. I guess it's pretty clear which way I come down on this one.

I internalize everything, if something happens in my life, it's because of the choices I have or am making and if it's the wrong choice then it's my responsibility to fix it, no help from the universe required. I drove home in the snow in the middle of the night and if I had died it wasn't the universe that killed me and it wasn't the universe that caused my family grief and loss. It was all me, and I like it that way, the more responsibility I have over my own life the better my chance of success, I think, and the better my chances of learning from my mistakes because they are my mistakes not just a set of circumstances that happened to me. Just my perspective. I hope it doesn't sound as negative as it did when I tried to explain it on Saturday.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Goin' to the Cup again!!!!!

Hats off for real help for the homeless

I can't say it any better than this, so I won't even try:

Hats off to those behind a sharp decline in the number of homeless living on our city streets.  The 2010 homeless count tallied just over 2,400 citizens bunking on bus benches, diving in dumpsters and picking bottles in the alley — 2,421 people is still a huge, unacceptable number, but it is a decrease from the last round- up in ’08 of about 650 people.
That’s good. And how are they doing it? By acknowledging the differences between homeless and bums. Homeless can be helped. Bums can’t. You can lead a bum to water but you can’t make him bathe. Bums will always be homeless, but homeless aren’t always bums. Ya follow?

Programs like the twice annual Homeless Connect at the Shaw Conference Centre are making the difference. Let’s continue to focus our spending there — on the people that are a haircut, toothbrush, birth certificate, some Internet, legal counsel or maybe a clean shirt away from turning the corner and getting a job and a roof.
This Christmas season there’ll be Christmas dinner drives to ensure that everyone gets turkey, cranberries and gravy on the 25th. It’s a nice gesture, but funds can be spent — and are being spent — more effectively to help the homeless. Keep up the good work, Samaritans.
There are some people who want help, and there are others who don't.  I agree with Jack - lets use the resources to help those who want it first, and THEN worry about the others who don't.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

new to this blog

Hey there, since I am new I am gonna introduce myself a little, my name is Cory, and I have been friends with the main contributor for a very long time, we see many things the same but differ on a few. I like to think of myself as a wolf, a wolf is a leader unto himself, he doesn't try to lead others but he refuses to follow mindlessly, so many of my opinions are thought out into incredible detail while others I have just by my own instincts of what is right and wrong. I swear so I hope that people who read this blog don't get offended too easily, I don't feel that it is a reflection on my intellect, it is a reflection of my attitude towards arbitrary rules that don't make sense. I may or may not post on similar topics to what has previously be posted, not everything in my life is political and sometimes I am very extreme in my position while at other times I am quite balanced. I am skeptical of everything, even if someone thinks they have science on their side I tend to find many studies are biased and end up with skewed results. For the truth one has to look at many things and it's very rarely easy to find. I almost always dismiss what the media says, because despite what certain talk show hosts think, every report is biased in some direction or another and you can usually find out pretty quick which way they lean so to stay in the middle I have to do a lot of looking around for multiple versions of the same story.

Thats all I have for now, so I hope to have some fun and maybe stir up a few arguments now and then. Have a good day everyone.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

POW Economics

The POW Economy Explained

Richard Radford is one such soldier. When war broke out in 1939, he left his studies at Cambridge and joined the British army. Captured in Libya in 1942, he spent the remaining war years in prisoner of war camps. Upon his release, he wrote an analysis of The Economic Organisation of a P.O.W. Camp. It is worth reading today, both for what it says about life during wartime, and for its lessons about “the universality and the spontaneity” of economic activity.

Soldiers in the German P.O.W. camps received regular rations for most of the war. Their captors provided basic necessities – bread, margarine, and so on. Red Cross and private parcels provided the rest – cigarettes, chocolate, meat, tea, coffee, and less popular items, like tinned carrots. Almost as soon as soldiers were captured, barter systems emerged, with non-smokers trading cigarettes for chocolate, for example. But over time camps became highly organized economies, with cigarettes serving as currency.

Definitely a recommended read... I'm even thinking about looking for the book.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Canadians favour melticulturalism

Canadians overwhelmingly favour melticulturalism

Mr Parland misses the point completely when he says this:

So, the majority of Canadians are in favour of a system that seeks to respect and preserve cultural differences, just as long as people from other cultures don’t actually preserve those differences but assimilate into Canadian society. Call it melticulturalism: You can be as different as you want, just as long as you act like everyone else.

The point isn't that people must assimilate - the point is that when you come to Canada, most would assume that you continue to honor your own traditions within your own house, occasionally letting others get a glimpse into your culture, but that whenever your traditions clash with Canadian traditions, the Canadian traditions should win. Simple as that. Honor killings, ethnic prejudice, sharia law to name a few are things which clash with Canadian Culture. These are the things that make many Canadians throw up their hands and say "If you don't like it here, go back to where you came from!", not because we don't want them here, but we don't what these aspects of their culture here. These are the things oftentimes they moved to get away from... why then should we allow it to be implemented here so that they can be subject to it again?

To steal a phrase, to what appears to be a large number of people, we assume that "multiculturalism means more pavilions at Folk Fest"

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Spin Begins - By Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner - National Review Online

The Spin Begins - By Kathryn Jean Lopez - The Corner - National Review Online

Hello to gridlock … and goodbye to recovery? Post-election inaction in D.C. probably won’t bode well for the economy

Or... OR

Gridlock in Washington will be exactly what the US needs - something to stop government from taxing more, spending more, and killing any hope of recovery that might be starting to take root.