Saturday, June 23, 2007

Canadians Devolving Into Creationists?

As I was browsing the internet today, I came across this interesting (and somewhat disturbing) Angus Reid poll. It explored Canadian attitudes toward creationist theory, in light of the recent openings of creationist "museums" in Kentucky and - surprise, surprise -Alberta. In addition, our very own Public Safety Minister, the Honourable Stockwell Day, has famously claimed that the earth is only about 6000 years old, and that there is scientific 'proof' that man and dinosaur co-existed.

Anyways, here are some of the poll results:

Which of these statements comes closest to your own point of view regarding the origin and development of human beings on earth?

Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years - 59%
God created human beings in their present form within the last 10,000 years - 22%
Not sure - 19%

The Big Valley Creation Science Museum opened this month in Alberta. One of the museum’s displays suggests that dinosaurs and human beings co-existed on earth. Do you agree or disagree with this assertion?

Agree - 42%
Disagree - 37%
Not sure - 21%

So what to make of this? Clearly, a majority of Canadians (nearly 60%) support the Darwinian notion of evolution. Yet 42% of Canadians also agree with the preposterous idea that man and dinosaurs co-existed, outnumbering slightly those who disagree. Coexistence is one of the fundamental tenets of modern day creationist thinking, and displays to this effect are present in both the Alberta and the Kentucky creationist museums. According to Grant Lafleche of the St. Catharines Standard, even the pollsters at Angus Reid were perplexed by the apparent contradiction.

I have been pondering these numbers all day, and I must confess they are puzzling to me as well. I can only conclude that while most Canadians accept evolutionary theory, many are not well enough versed in it to understand that it precludes the coexistence of man and dinosaur. Or perhaps they are merely confused at the sight of intellectual dinosaurs like Stockwell Day roaming freely amongst normal, thinking human beings in Ottawa.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Letter From A Nut

In yet another of Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor's public humiliations, the Ottawa Citizen has obtained a letter written by O'Connor to former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld late last year.

The letter consists of little more than O'Connor fawning over his American counterpart, even as the disgraced Rumsfeld was in the process of having his ass handed to him by President Bush.
"You have helped transform the armed forces of the United States to meet the threats of the 21st Century. Your vision in recognizing and responding to these new threats has set the standard for forward-looking defence planning in an uncertain world," O'Connor wrote.
Forward-looking? Vision? Was O'Connor referring to the time Rumsfeld said this:
"We do know of certain knowledge that he [Osama Bin Laden] is either in Afghanistan, or in some other country, or dead."
or this:
"We know where [Iraq's WMDs] are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
or this:
"It is unknowable how long that conflict [the war in Iraq] will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months."
or this:
"Death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war."
or this:
"[Osama Bin Laden is] either alive and well or alive and not too well or not alive."

Gordon O'Connor is clearly either
a) a sycophant of the highest order
b) a colossal ignoramus
c) a and b

I wonder if O'Connor will receive a similar congratulatory note from Rumsfeld when Stephen Harper shuffles him off to the fortress of solitude currently occupied by Rona Ambrose?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Random Musings on the Big Apple

I just returned from a short vacation in New York City (the reason I hadn't posted in a few days). I was there primarily to visit a couple of good friends, but it was also my first real exposure to the Big Apple, so I had to take in some of the sights as well.

All I can really say is "wow". New York City is staggering in its scale. Everything is larger than life. It is the undisputed epicentre of mass commercialism and unfettered capitalism in North America. And yet despite its continual assault on the senses, New York exudes a certain atmosphere and charm that is impossible to ignore. Some random thoughts on the big city:

1. NYC has done a tremendous job preserving its classic architecture. Wonderful buildings from the 19th century and from the early 20th century can still be seen throughout Manhattan. In fact, many of these structures put modern steel & glass skyscrapers to shame with their intricate designs and attention to detail. This type of preservation of the past has largely been lost in major Canadian cities like Toronto and Vancouver, and its really a shame.

2. Times Square, like New York itself, has undergone a transformation over the years. Gone are the peep-shows and XXX theatres. Unfortunately, they have been replaced by garish neon and LCD screen towers advertising everything from Burger King to the Disney Corporation. Less seedy, but strangely no more attractive than before.

3. We took a 3 hour cruise around the island of Manhattan. Our tour guide was a self-proclaimed "born and bred New Yorker". He strolled around the deck of the ship, microphone in hand, and in that quintessential New York accent pointed out the various sights. He also felt the need to add in his own brand of social commentary. Himself a veteran, he was clearly proud of the war effort in Iraq, informing us that New Yorkers had "shed their share of blood" for their country, and beaming that Britons were standing "shoulder to shoulder" with them in this epic struggle. Later he became irate when describing the the underfunding of VA hospitals, shouting angrily into the mic, "You don't have the money?? Well you FIND the money, Goddammit!!". I found it curious that although he was acutely aware of the horrible human toll of war, he wasn't actually against the war in Iraq; he merely wanted more funding for better prosthetic limbs and such. Odd, that.

4. JFK is a nightmarishly busy airport, staffed by rude and generally unhelpful people. Avoid it at all costs.

5. NYC on the other hand, defied expectations. I found the people outgoing and quite friendly. Strangers are quick to engage you in conversation, and not shy with their opinions. The city was cleaner than I had expected, and I never felt threatened or unsafe. NYC has clearly worked hard to rid itself of its deservedly poor reputation of the 1970's and 1980's. For the most part, it has succeeded. It stands today as an engaging and entertaining city, and I can recommend it to anyone looking for an urban getaway.

p.s. Thanks to my good friends Stephen and Zahra for their gracious hospitality!