คาสิโนปอยเปต pantip_เล่นสล็อตออนไลน์บนมือถือ_พนันบอลออนไลน์ ฟรี https://www.google.com//d4d A view into the mind of Jason en-gb Noachian flood and the physics of water. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20161211074742440 <p>There are many that believe that the Noachian flood in the Bible actually happened despite there being absolutely no geologic evidence of such a global catastrophe happening, not to mention several contemporary civilizations completely failing to a) mention the event and b) being wiped out by it. Of course there's another reason to discount this event as happening, and it comes from physics</p> <p>In order to flood the Earth to the height of the highest mountain you need a lot of water. Way more water than exists today. A simple calculation that subtracts the volume of a sphere with the radius of the Earth to the height of Mt. Everest from the volume of a sphere with the radius of mean sea level nets the volume of additional water to be about 4.52x10<sup>18</sup> m<sup>3</sup>. That's a lot of water.</p> <p>Now since people didn't notice this massive volume of water in the sky prior to the rains started it would have had to be in vapour form. This means that in order for rain to happen this vapour needs to condense. This requires a release of energy. The amount of energy released is easy to compute as all one has to do is multiply the mass of the water in kilograms, in this case 4.52x10<sup>21</sup>kg by the heat of vapourization for water which is 2270kJ/kg. This nets us about 1.03x10<sup>28</sup>J of energy.</p> <p>Now this energy wouldn't be released all at once, but over the 40 days given for the rains. From this we can work out the wattage of the heat given out by dividing the number of joules of energy by the number of seconds in 40 days which gives us a power of 2.96x10<sup>21</sup>W. From this we can work out how much heat each square metre of the Earth would be radiating by dividing the wattage by the surface area of the Earth which nets 5.82x10<sup>6</sup>W/m<sup>2</sup>. For comparison the amount of energy the Earth receives from the Sun is about 1300 W/m<sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>From this we can now work out how hot a blackbody radiating at by using the <a href="http://evl.link/95">Stefan-Boltzmann law</a>. From this law and our calculated wattage nets us a temperature of about 3182K (2910C or 5270F). This is hot enough to basically melt the surface rocks of the Earth. The energy release would literally prevent rain from falling and would actually vapourize the water that was already here, and melt the rocks. There would be no need to flood the Earth as the temperature would be enough to sterilize the planet.</p> <p>So the complete lack of evidence for a flood in either the geologic record or contemporary accounts is bad enough. That the heat generated by the rainfall needed to cover the Earth in that much water shows that it just didn't happen.</p> Sun, 11 Dec 2016 07:47:42 -0700 The CIA, Trump, Putin and Russian hackers. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20161210225410683 <p>There is a possibility that the Russian government, through hackers, <a href="http://evl.link/93">may have interfered with the US election</a>, by which hacking into a DNC email server and then leaking the information to Wikileaks while also having hacked into an RNC email server and sitting on that information. This begs two questions, why would Putin and the Russian government want Trump as president, and does this compromise Trump and his administration from a security standpoint.</p> <p>The first question is relatively simple to answer. It is in the best interest of Putin and Russia if the US has a weak leader. This would allow Putin to have almost free reign in Eastern Europe with little hindrance from the US and by extension NATO. For example, a strong US president would more than likely not only complain about a Russian incursion into the Ukraine, but likely do something about it either by sending arms or advisors or convincing NATO allies that it's a bad idea to let the Russians do this. On the other hand a weak US president is likely to cave in, to appease the Russians. Thus the Russians would likely want to tip the US election towards someone they think would be weak or at the very least easily manipulated. Given Trumps propensity to Twitter tantrums with pretty much anyone he takes offense from, he is at the least very easy to manipulate. An old KGP pro like Putin is probably giddy like a school girl at the prospect of someone that malleable in the oval office.</p> <p>Which brings up the second question. What does this mean for US security? To answer this it is useful to look at how spy agencies compromise people on the other side. It's a simple formula really, find someone who has access to what you want to know, befriend them, provide them with something they don't have but want, (sex, money, power), get some compromising information on them then blackmail them into providing you with what you want.</p> <p>Now if what the reports of what the CIA is saying is true, this is almost a classic cold war compromise of an asset. Help was provided; information that can harm the asset has been secured. Now all that is needed is for the time to use that to compromise the asset, in this case President of the United States Donald Trump. Now Putin isn't likely to be asking Trump to sneak state secrets out of the White House to be dropped by the third lamp post along Pennsylvania Avenue as it's just as likely that Trump will Tweet the secrets out in a pique of ego. Where the compromise will be most useful is when Putin decides to invade the Ukraine or the Baltic states to reform the former glory that was the Soviet Union. Between planting false stories in fake news sites designed to make Trump feel that the leaders of the countries Putin wants to control have said nasty things about Trump; and then threatening to release the damaging information the intelligence services of the Russian Federation now hold; Trump will be made to at the least do nothing about, if not cheer for Russian tanks roaming the streets of Kiev and Riga. </p> <p>If any of this were true for someone working in an area with security sensitive information, even if they weren't passing secrets, they would be considered compromised and reassigned to somewhere they could do no harm. That's a little difficult when the compromised asset is the President of the United States. There's a good chance that this is a Russian attempt to destabilize NATO and prevent US influence in Europe allowing Putin to assert Russian influence in the region. If these revelations are true, we may be seeing the greatest intelligence coup since Operation Bodyguard.</p> Sat, 10 Dec 2016 22:54:10 -0700 How we know there&#039;s no counter-Earth hiding behind the Sun. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20151103121709688 <p>For centuries there has been speculation about another planet on the same orbit as the Earth, but hiding behind the Sun. Sometimes this is used as a plot device in science fiction or by some conspiracy theorist to explain something. The reality is we know there isn't a planet hiding behind the Sun and here's why:</p> <p>First off we'd see it. I don't mean in telescopes, but it would be an unaided eye object. The reason why is quite simple and has to do with orbital mechanics. Now for an object to remain hidden behind the Sun it would have to be moving the same speed the Earth does in it's orbit. Which would work if the Earth orbited the Sun in a circle. It doesn't. Planets orbit according to <a href="http://evl.link/5k">Kepler's Laws of Planetary Motion</a> the first of which is that the planets orbit the Sun in ellipses. Now the Earth's orbit is nearly circular but is elliptical enough that the difference between our closest approach to the Sun and our furthest (perihelion and aphelion) is about 5 million kilometres. </p> <p>Kepler's second law basically states that the closest a planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves and the further it is from the Sun the slower it moves. So the Earth is constantly speeding up and slowing down in its trip around the Sun. A counter Earth would have to do the same. Now since the counter Earth would be opposite the Sun from the Earth, it would be at perihelion when the Earth is at aphelion and vice versa. Some quick calculations here at Castle Evil show that the difference in orbital velocity for the Earth between perihelion and aphelion is about 1 km/s (0.995 km/s for the pedants out there). This means that at part of the orbit our counter-Earth twin would be racing to catch up with us at 1km/s and then running away from us at the same speed 6 months later. Now to be visible the counter-Earth would have to be out from behind the solar disk. At 1 km/s it would take about a month for such a body to be one solar diameter away from the solar disk at perihelion/aphelion. This means that for all practical purposes a counter-Earth would only be actually hidden from us for a few months a year as it appeared to swing from side to side behind the Sun.</p> <p>Since such a body would only be hidden for few months or so and would clearly be visible to the naked eye (Mars is smaller in diameter and is visible when it is farther away than a counter-Earth) most of the time. So from this alone it is safe to say there is no planet in the same orbit as the Earth hiding behind the Sun.</p> <p>Even if a counter-Earth were able to stay behind the Sun for some reason, we'd still see it's effect on the orbits of other planets. As the planet Venus, for example, lapped a twin Earth, the twin's gravity would tug at Venus causing measurable perturbations in Venus' orbit. Since no such perturbations have ever been observed, it is further evidence that there just isn't a planet hiding behind the Sun.</p> <p>So the lack of a visible counter-Earth and no perturbations in Venus' orbit are evidence that it's not there, but further against the idea is that it's dynamically impossible. The counter Sun point is one of five <a href="http://evl.link/5l">Lagrange points</a> that exist as part of the Sun-Earth system. Of the five Lagrange points, L4 and L5 are stable. They are analogous to a valley where if you put something there it takes a fair bit of energy to dislodge it from the point so no station keeping is needed. L1, L2 and L3 on the other hand are saddle points. This is analogous to being on a ridge. Though something can stay on the ridge it doesn't take much to push it off the ridge and down the slope below. As such any object at the L1, L2 or L3 points is unstable and requires some form of station keeping to maintain it's position. The counter-Sun point is L3. This means that any planet at L3 will have problems staying there, as the gravitational perturbations of the other planets (Jupiter for instance) will tend to push an L3 planet off the point and into a different orbit. Thus not only would we see a counter-Earth, it wouldn't stay at that point for very long before it was pushed off the L3 point into a completely different orbit. Which would obviously make such a planet visible.</p> <p>Of course our Earth would be in the counter-Earth's L3 point as well, making the Earth's orbit unstable for the same reasons. Since the Earth is in a stable orbit, nothing the size of the Earth is hanging out at our L3 point.</p> <p>So the notion of another planet sharing our orbit about the Sun but hidden behind the Sun is an interesting idea and fodder for questionable science fiction (and even more questionable conspiracy theories) however there is nothing there. At the end of the day it's a dynamic impossibility and even if it were possible we'd see it and it's effects on the other planets in our solar system.</p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 12:17:09 -0700 March &#039;em to the trains. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=2015100220363222 <p>This is the story, the story of a boy who was born in Canada to parents who were naturalized citizens of Canada. A boy whose only citizenship and only country he ever new was Canada. A boy whose family had been Canada 30 years and a country he had lived in his entire 11 years. A boy whose citizenship was removed from him (making him stateless) for the crime of being the wrong race under the guise of security. </p> <p>It wasn't just this boy either. Everyone who shared his ancestry, relative or not, was subject to the same treatment. Their property was confiscated; they were herded into camps and held against their will for years. Eventually they were finally released. They had to re-apply for their citizenship (despite being citizens before everything started), their property was never return to them and compensation for that finally came 40 years later.</p> <p>So who was this boy? My father. His parents immigrated from Japan in 1912 and settled in BC where they grew tomatoes. In 1941 a government in a country they no longer held allegiance to bombed a US territory and suddenly people who had never been to Japan were a security threat and had their citizenship removed. They were promptly herded into internment camps and after the war many who had never set foot in Japan were deported there. My father was lucky and his family was not deported, but their citizenship wasn't restored until 1949. Prior to that it was quite literally illegal for my father to visit BC, the province of his birth, solely based on his ethnicity.</p> <p>At the time is was claimed it was all for "security". But at the end of the day the real reason was racism. The war just gave an excuse. A quote from the then MP and cabinet minister from BC, Ian MacKenzie gives an example of this racism:<br /> <a href="http://evl.link/4w"><em>It is the governments plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.</em></a></p> <p>So we had a racist policy set up to appease a racist political base in a region implemented in the guise of security. Sounding familiar?</p> <p>Fast forward 75 years and we're here again. We have a federal political party and its leader raising the security boogey man to get support for two "security" laws that first make pretty much any act the government doesn't like a "terrorist" act (destroying the meaning of the word in the process) and then followed it up with an act to strip people of their citizenship if they are "terrorists". Prediction: only brown people will be stripped of their citizenship by the Conservatives and that will be roundly applauded by Conservative supporters. I bring up bills C-51 and C-24 because the unfounded hype around terrorists in Canada is the same unfounded hype surrounding the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War. A group of people is "different", in this case a different religion instead of ethnicity, and for political gains a government, in this case the Harper Conservatives, use the xenophobia and racism around different for their own political ends. The same can be said about the whole Niqab tempest in a teapot. At the end of the day as long as the identity of a person taking an oath has been confirmed, which can be done privately, what the person is wearing at the ceremony is pretty much irrelevant. If their religion tells them they need to wear a colander on their head for important ceremonies, why not? It's not a debasement of Canadian values to allow stuff like that to happen. Why? One of Canada's values is freedom of religion, and news flash, that means freedom for religions that aren't yours too. If you feel threatened by people who are different, <em>you</em> are the one with the problem, not them.</p> <p>Which brings me to one of my purposes of this post. People I know who support all this crap. Here's some full disclosure: First I'm not Christian, never have been, never will (the reality is I find all religions, including yours, to be equally as made up). Secondly by definition I'm not an Old Stock Canadian, as my mother was an immigrant. Since writing this is in opposition to Conservative policy and Conservative ministers are on record of saying if you're not for Conservative policy you're for terrorism, and under Bill C-51 that's illegal, this article makes me eligible for deportation to my mother's homeland, a country I've never set foot in or have any allegiance to, which to me appears to be something you support (or since I'm white, that's different?). The fact that Harper's racist rhetoric is working on you makes me wonder, given my family history, why you aren't advocating for my removal from the country, or at the very least not calling me a "real" Canadian at every opportunity?</p> <p>So in the end I would put it anyone falling for Harper's racist rhetoric would have likely been applauding the army as they were herding Japanese Canadian families onto the trains as well. It means that for whatever reason you are at the least xenophobic and at the worst, racist. If you don't like that, that's your problem, not mine.</p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 20:36:32 -0600 What I do in science https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150820194019412 <p>Occasionally I get asked as to what I actually research in astronomy so I thought I'd create a post that explains what my current research project is about. First some generalities: my interests in astronomy are related to stellar evolution and galaxy interactions (these topics are generally unrelated, though galaxy mergers do set off a storm of star formation in disk (spiral) galaxies). Specifically I find how stars end their lives quite fascinating. Supernovae, black holes, pulsars/neutron stars, planetary nebulae and white dwarfs are all majorly cool in my world. </p> <p>At this point in time I am studying planetary nebulae (PNe in plural, PN in singular). Planetary nebulae are a phase of stellar evolution where stars less than eight times the mass of the Sun (including the Sun) have blown off their outer atmospheres leaving behind the glowing core. The core has stopped undergoing fusion but is still millions of degrees in temperature. The outer atmosphere has been blown far into space by stellar winds and now the ultra-violet light being produced by the hot core remnant (often called the central star) causes this gas to glow. We see this gas as the planetary nebula. As such this is the penultimate stage in the death of Sun like stars, the final stage being a white dwarf.</p> <p>That these nebulae are called planetary is a quirk of history as they have nothing to do with planets. When these objects were first discovered in the late 19th century they appeared though the telescopes of the day to look like the planets Uranus and Neptune but spectroscopy of them showed they were nebulae. Thus the moniker planetary nebula (some contemporary astronomers have suggested renaming them, but if you thought there was an uproar over Pluto?</p> <p>So now you have a general idea what a planetary nebula is. Now as we see them in the sky PNe seem to come in two broad categories, round(ish) and bi-polar.<br /> [image1] [image2]<br /> <em>Image 1 and 2: An elliptical (round) PN (IC418) and bipolar PN (M76)</em><br /> There are of course many different types within these two broad categories, but for the sake of this discussion the two broad categories will do. It is also clear that many apparently round PNe are simply bipolar PNe seen edge on.</p> <p>Now we are still uncertain with what causes PNe to be bi-polar. There are three current hypotheses, which are not mutually exclusive in that it is possible for each one to be a cause of the collimation that forms the lobes of the bi-polar PNe. First up is that there is a disk of dust and gas around the dying star and this forces the gas leaving the star into the two lobes of the bipolare PNe. Second is that there is some unseen companion in orbit around the dying star and gravitational forces cause the collimation. Finally the dying star has a strong magnetic field and this causes the two lobes.</p> <p>Now there's nothing that says that these couldn't all be the cause around different stars and the evidence for them is mixed. Some proto-planetary nebulae have been spotted with disks of material around them. Some PNe have evidence of an unseen companion. The only hypothesis of the three that is quite weak is the magnetic field hypothesis; as most stars the mass of the Sun don't generate a strong enough magnetic field so would have to be somehow "spun up" to rotate faster to generate one.</p> <p>This is where I come in. It has been argued that all PNe are bipolar and that the round ones are just projection effects. That being said there is some evidence that some of the round ones are actually round. Not only that, but the ones that are round come from lower mass progenitor stars (a progenitor is just the thing that came before what we're looking at now). Both Henry et al (2010) and Manchando et al (2000) suggest that the round/elliptical PNe come from lower mass progenitors and that the bipolar stars are made up of more massive ones. What I am doing is looking at a sample of planetary nebulae of various morphologies (shapes) and determining what the initial mass of the progenitor star was likely to be. From this it can be seen if this lower mass makes round PNe hypothesis is likely to be correct.</p> <p>The problem is "weighing" the progenitor. Normally we can <a href="http://evl.link/2z">determine the mass of an object</a> by watching how some other object orbits it. We can also see how a really massive object bends light around it and determine its mass that way. Neither of these methods can be used with planetary nebulae for three reasons. First there is generally nothing detectible orbiting the PNe; second they are not massive enough to measure the light bending around them; and third and most importantly the progenitor star has loosed its non-core layers into the universe so isn't there to be weighed at all. This means some other method must be used.</p> <p>How I determine the mass of the progenitors is indirect and provides a relative indication (not absolute) of the progenitor mass, but this will work for the purposes of testing the hypothesis. The method works based on the following:</p> <p>First compared to the lives of the stars that form them, PNe are quite ephemeral things, lasting only several tens of thousands of years (this is a very short period of time in astronomy). This means that the PNe that we can observe are in essence more or less formed at the same time (compared to stars). This allows the next steps in the line of reasoning.</p> <p>Though the PNe themselves are more or less the same age, the same can't be said of the progenitor stars. There is quite a range of ages based on the initial mass of the progenitor. For example stars of around the mass of the Sun live on the order of about 10 billion years. Stars only 5 times greater than that, 5 solar mass stars, live only about 1 billion years. This means that though both of these stars produce PNe, for the PNe we see today some of the stars were formed 10 billion years ago, some only 1 billion or so years ago.</p> <p>This range of formation times is important is that as time moves forward, our Galaxy becomes enriched with more and more elements heavier than hydrogen and helium. This is because in that time frame stars born much earlier die and throw the elements made inside them into the Galaxy to be made into new stars. Thus we would expect stars born earlier in time (longer ago) to have less of these heavier elements than stars born later in time (less long ago). So if a PNe has more sulphur than another, its progenitor must have been formed later since in order to gain sulphur it would have had to be born in a later time where more sulphur was available.</p> <p>I used sulphur in the previous example purposely. Sulphur is made in stars, but not those that form PNe. Much more massive stars are needed to make sulphur so we know that the amount of sulphur in the star, and hence its PNe, is from when it formed and not because the star made it. So if the amount of sulphur in a PNe can be measured, it provides a marker for the size of the progenitor star. More sulphur means the progenitor star was heavier. Thus a graph of sulphur abundance is also a graph of progenitor mass, even if we can't tell exactly how much mass the progenitor had, we can still tell if one was more likely to be heavier than another.</p> <p>Now the trick is to measure the sulphur abundance of the PNe. This is doable! There's a couple of ways this can be done. First and more traditionally a <a href="http://evl.link/42">spectrum</a> would be taken, the sulphur lines located and measured and compared to some other line (in astronomy abundances are always given as a ratio of one element to another as this counteracts effects due to changes in brightness due to factors other than the amount of the element present). To do this requires a spectrograph and they aren't cheap. So I use the second method, which is a form of photoelectric photometry. I use a CCD imager that uses a monochrome CCD chip similar to the colour chips used in your camera phone to take images of target PNe through various filters. One of these filters only sees the light from an <a href="http://evl.link/41">emission line</a> of hydrogen known as <a href="http://evl.link/44">hydrogen alpha</a>. Another filter allows the imager to only see the light of a certain emission line of sulphur (known as <a href="http://evl.link/43">sulphur[II]</a>). By comparing the brightness of these two lines as seen by the imager one can infer the abundance ratio of sulphur to hydrogen and hence the relative mass of the progenitor.<br /> [image3][image4]<br /> <em>PN NGC 2371 in H-alpha (left) and S[II] (right) light</em> </p> <p>So that, in a nutshell, is the general focus of my research. Feel free to contact me to ask questions!</p> <p><b>References:</b></p> <p>Henry, R.B.C., Kwitter, K.B., Jaskot, A.E., Balick, B., Morrison, M.A., Milingo, J.B., 2010, ApJ 724, 748</p> <p>Manchado, A., Villaver, E., Stanghellini, L., &amp; Guerrero, M. A. 2000, in ASP Conf. Ser. 199, Asymmetrical Planetary Nebulae II, Kastner, J.H., Soker, N. Rappaport, S. eds (San Francisco: ASP), 17</p> Thu, 20 Aug 2015 19:40:19 -0600 Asteroids: why we should look for them and how we do it. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150801151936906 <p>In the past few years the astronomical community has begun to expend a fair bit of resources in the search for asteroids. Apart from the curiosity aspect of looking for such objects, there is a real, practical reason to locate these things: an asteroid collision with the Earth.</p> <p>The collision of the Earth with an asteroid has the very real possibility of causing an <a href="http://evl.link/34">extinction event</a> such as <a href="http://evl.link/35">happened to the dinosaurs about 65 million years ago</a>. Only this time it won't be the dinosaurs that will be wiped out, it will be us. This is the practical impetus in looking for asteroids, especially a class of asteroids known as <a href="http://evl.link/36">Near Earth Objects (NEOs)</a> as these are the ones with a possibility of hitting the Earth.</p> <p>Now as of this writing there are <a href="http://evl.link/37">about 12800 <em>known</em> NEOs</a> of all sizes. Of these there are <a href="http://evl.link/38">about 1600 <em>known</em> Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs)</a>. I've emphasised the word "known" for a reason. We discover several hundred NEO's a year (of which about 13% will be PHAs). The PHAs are, upon discovery, the asteroids that get intensely studied, as we need accurate orbit determinations to work out if they will impact the Earth. It is important to note that an asteroid being a PHA does not automatically mean it will impact the Earth, but that the potential is there and we should keep our eyes on it.</p> <p>So that is the why, now for the how. Asteroids are very dim. This is due to the fact that they are a) small and b) have low <a href="http://evl.link/39">albedos</a>. Compounding this is that they tend to look just like dim stars on an image plate such as this:</p> <p>[image1]<br /> The asteroid 2-Pallas is in this frame</p> <p>Now I won't blame you if you can't find the asteroid <a href="http://evl.link/3a">2-Pallas</a> on this frame. So the trick is to find the asteroid. We do this by taking an image of the same part of the sky at a different time. The stars are so far away that in any reasonable period of time (a few days for example) the stars will not appear to move, but the asteroid will. This GIF animation shows Pallas' motion over the period of an hour:</p> <p>[image2]<br /> Pallas' motion over an hour</p> <p>A pretty way is to take three images over a period of time and make a colour RGB image, each image forms one of the red, green, or blue channels. In this case the stars come out as basically white and three dots, one red, one green, and one blue mark where the asteroid has moved:</p> <p>[image3]<br /> Three colour asteroid image.</p> <p>Seems simple enough, except that it's a big sky. The image of Pallas is from a moderately sized telescope (0.2m) using a relatively small imager. The frame is about 0.64 degrees of arc by about 0.48 degrees of arc or about 0.31 square degrees. The entire sky is about 41253 square degrees so this image is about 0.0007% of the sky. A search with this instrument would be a time consuming task indeed.</p> <p>Using an instrument with a larger field of view will help with that, but causes a second problem, there are a lot more stars in larger fields of view. Now it will take more time after the observation to check to see which points of light moved. One way is to use two images (like those used to make the animation above) and use a computer to mark where each star is on each frame and show the ones that moved. There will be false positives of course, which will have to be followed up by human intervention. One can also subtract one frame from the other (earlier-later) which gives something like this for our frames of Pallas:</p> <p>[image4]<br /> Pallus with the stars subtracted.</p> <p>In this case the fixed stars should subtract out leaving just the asteroid. Though if you look closely there are some false positives here too due to imaging factors.</p> <p>So the difficult task remains, but an important one. There are many <a href="http://evl.link/3b">projects seeking these objects</a> and it is an area where amateur astronomers looking for a project can do some real science by joining the hunt. I won't go into what to do if we find the asteroid with our name on it, that's for another post on another day.</p> Sat, 01 Aug 2015 15:19:36 -0600 Why Senate reform will never happen under Stephen Harper&#039;s watch. https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150724175231758 <p>Rumours abounded today when the <a href="http://evl.link/2u">National Post reported that Stephen Harper would be announcing a call to abolish the Senate</a>. Turns out Harper was just <a href="http://evl.link/2v">announcing that he wouldn't appoint any more senators at this time</a>. The rational given for not appointing new senators is to force the provinces to play ball.</p> <p>Herein lies Harper's problem when it comes to reforming the Senate. In order to simply change the Senate Harper needs 7 out of 10 provinces with 50% of the population on side in order to push the changes through. To abolish it requires unanimity on the parts of the provinces. These are difficult tasks, but not impossible ones. They can be accomplished with tact, diplomacy and consensus building on the part of the Prime Ministers. It would be a lot of hard work over several years, but doable.</p> <p>The problem is that Harper doesn't do tact, diplomacy or consensus building. It's his way or the highway. The fact that he's treated his provincial counterparts with utter disdain for the past 10 years isn't helping him. To move Senate reform/abolishment forward Harper will need to actually meet with all the Premiers at the same time, something he has shown great reluctance of doing. The fact that he's trying to bully the Premiers into working for his vision is telling about his inability to work with others, something he's going to need to do to get reform accomplished. He will also have to compromise, also something he's not that great at. All of this will result in a complete failure to build the consensus he needs to make Senate reform happen.</p> <p>So at the end of the day Harper's bully boy personality will mean that any attempt at Senate reform while he's Prime Minister will be stillborn. Harper just doesn't have the qualities of a statesman that would allow him to build the necessary consensus to move forward on reform. It will be up to a future Prime Minister who is far better at working to build consensus to reform the upper chamber; assuming Harper doesn't make the idea of reform so unpalatable that the change becomes an even more uphill climb.</p> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 17:52:31 -0600 Is Harper spooked? https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150512184948374 <p>It hit the news today that Stephen Harper has decided that <a href="http://evl.link/w">he will not participate in a nationally televised debate</a> but only in a few select debates with what can be described as "Conservative friendly" media outlets. Given the timing of this announcement one wonders if the recent election of the NDP in what has generally been an overwhelmingly Conservative province of Alberta has spooked Dear Leader.</p> <p>It's not that Harper's likely to lose Alberta. Other than in Edmonton the Alberta NDP picked up seats in ridings that had heavy right-wing vote splitting. So apart from a couple of seats in Edmonton, Harper is still set to take pretty much the rest of the province. The same can be said for both Saskatchewan and Manitoba where outside of the cities Harper has things pretty much in the bag.</p> <p>This leaves the rest of Canada. Harper's Conservatives are pretty much a wash east of Ontario. He'll be lucky to hold the seats he has there. This leave Ontario and BC where things are shaping up to be a tight three way race between the Harper Conservatives, the Liberals, and the NDP. It is because of these battlegrounds that Harper wants to avoid a national debate where he a) has no control over the format and b) lots of people are likely to be watching.</p> <p>The reason for this is what has spooked him. Alberta was a tight three way race until the leaders' debate. This debate basically sidelined the Liberals and the Wildrose and ended up a debate between the Progressive Conservative's Jim Prentice and the NDP's Rachel Notley who are both generally charismatic people who were able to sideline the rather wooden performance of Wildrose's Brian Jean and the reservedness of the Liberal's David Swan.</p> <p>Herein lines Harper's problem with a national debate. Compared to both Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulclair, Stephen Harper has all the charisma of a 2x4. Harper is likely worried that he's going to be coming across as Jim Prentice against Muclair and Trudeau's Notley. What Harper should really be worried about is being sidelined by two people with much more stage presence than he does and being turned in to Brian Jean. </p> <p>At the end of the day a nationally televised debate that is not under Harper's control isn't in his best interest. It's telling that one of the "debates" that he has agreed to is being organized by Macleans Magazine, the editor of which if not having deep ties to the Conservative party is very sympathetic to it (witness the hard right shift in the magazine's editorial policy after the current editor took over). At the least Harper is hoping for an easy ride at the hands of the very sympathetic Macleans staff at at best hoping for them to make Harper look good vis-a-vis his opponents. In short, Harper wants to have the debate on his terms and ground and not a neutral debate where Canadians can all see him and the others in an equal light.</p> <p>This goes to show Harper's fundamental cowardice. If there's any chance he won't be seen as our Grand and Glorious Leader, he wants no part of it. The Alberta results have spooked him and he wants to avoid a repeat at the federal level in Ontario and BC, both of which he has to win to stay in power. Harper has, rightfully so, no confidence in himself at winning a fair and open debate that anyone can see. So he sets up some debates that few will see and that are likely to be set up in a way to guarantee a Harper victory. That way Harper can give a Brian Jean like performance and hopefully no one will notice.</p> Tue, 12 May 2015 18:49:48 -0600 What happened in Alberta? https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150509091506780 So at the end of Tuesday's provincial general election we have ended up with a majority NDP government. This is in line with what the polls had been saying for a week though still a shock in a province that hasn't voted for a non conservative party for 82 years. This has left progressives in a state of exuberance and conservatives in a state of panicked shock.<br /><br />So what happened? How did hyper partisan conservative Alberta elect a centre left government? The reasons are many and some are likely not reasons the political right in Alberta want to hear.<br /><br />First the obvious. The actions of PC leader and prior to the election premier Jim Prentice. Facing a collapse in oil prices leaving the structural deficit left behind by Ralph Klein bare and exposed, Prentice had to deal with a gaping 7 billion dollar hole in the provincial budget. To deal with this budget hole Prentice went to the people of Alberta and asked what he should do? Massive cuts? Provincial sales tax? Progressive income tax? Increase corporate taxes? The answer he got was clear, progressive income tax, increase to corporate taxes as well as modest cuts. Prentice promptly ignored this and hiked income tax, introduced a "health levy" as another type of income tax, cut the budget in places by 10% and then not touching corporate taxes at all.<br /><br />This angered PC supporters. Those of a progressive bent were angered because none of the pain was given to corporations. Those further right were angered by the tax increases and cuts that they perceived as not deep enough. This caused a large segment of the PC support to evaporate in anger.<br /><br />Now with over a year to go before the next election, this gave Prentice breathing room. Room for his budget to show that the sky wasn't falling. A year for oil prices to recover somewhat to aid in balancing the budget. So of course a smart politician waits right? Not Prentice. Sensing disarray in what he perceived to be his primary opposition, the Wildrose party, in disarray after talking nine of it's members crossing the floor to the government side; Prentice called a snap election. <br /><br />So now we have an electorate angry over the budget, angry over an acceptance of Wildrose MLA's into the PC caucus and angry over an election called a year early. A perfect storm of voter anger and desire to change horses. This resulted in a net loss of 16% of their vote from the previous election. This translated into a massive 60 seat loss for the party. Nine of this number were the ridings of the floor-crossers which promptly re-elected a Wildrose member to replace the ones that had crossed the floor. The Wildrose party also picked up an additional 5 of the Conservative seats. One of the remaining 46 seats went to the Alberta party. This left 45 seats that were picked up by the NDP. More on the NDP later.<br /><br /><br />Now the less obvious.<br /><br />The Wildrose managed to improve its seat performance from the previous election despite a 10% drop in the popular vote. At the 2012 election the Wildrose party had 17 seats. At the end of last night they held 21 seats and will remain the official opposition. This isn't bad considering the disruption the party had when it lost it's leader shortly before the election. However it is telling in some ways as the party is hardly an unknown. It spent much of the start of the election in a three way race with both the NDP and the PC parties. Further it almost formed government the election prior. So the question becomes why didn't the support the PC party lost go to the Wildrose? Was it the mass defection of Wildrose MLAs? Unlikely as that only shone negatively on the individual MLAs and the Progressive Conservatives. Was it because the party is an unknown? Possible, though as the previous official opposition as well as almost taking government last election makes that a less likely option. Also the Wildrose candidates were at least as unknown as their NDP counterparts. Was it Brian Jean’s rather wooden performance during the leader debate (where he could have effectively ben replaced by a tape recorder with the words “no taxes?recorded on it)? Likely part of the equation as well. This leaves the option WIldrose supporters least want to hear, people weren't enamoured with the Wildrose's platform or perceived location on the political spectrum. This is probably the most likely case, given that the NDP basically ran on a platform similar to what Peter Lougheed did when he took out the farther right Social Credit party in 1971. A couple of conversations with PC supporters who voted NDP indicated that they felt that Wildrose was too far out there for their tastes so they went with NDP for change. I would suggest that this is the most likely scenario for most of the vote that shifted from PC to NDP and not from PC to Wildrose. I would further suggest that the 10% drop in the WIldrose's popular vote from the previous election was primarily due to panicky Wildrose supporters shifting their vote to the PC in an attempt to block a NDP victory (which would mean that upwards of 25% of the popular vote shifted from the PC to the NDP).<br /><br />Now to the NDP. Going from 4 seats and 10% of the popular vote to 53 seats and 40% of the popular vote, the NDP made huge gains at the expense of the Progressive Conservative party. In about 20 ridings the NDP had an absolute majority. In the rest a combination of doing well and vote splitting among the two right wing parties propelled the remainder of the NDP's new caucus to power. Of the 30% of the popular vote the NDP gained, about 5% is likely from the Liberals. The lions share of the remaining 25% is likely from the Progressive Conservative party. This says a couple of things. First as stated above, the Wildrose party has do some thinking about why 25% of the population that would normally vote for a conservative party, suddenly decided to vote for the NDP. Second it shows that the NDP platform was less scary for that 25% than the right contended it was.<br /><br />Now what were the factors part of getting the vote shifting to the NDP? Well there were a large number of voters wanting to shift for the obvious reasons pointed to above. The NDP leader (now Alberta premier) Rachel Notley ran a strong campaign. She performed very well in the leader debate, sparing with PC leader Jim Prentice to the point where the other two party leaders barely got a word in edgewise. This strong showing and complete lack of missteps provided voters with a clear choice of someone who at least looked like they would make a competent premier.<br /><br />So we have a shift of votes from the PC party to the NDP due partially to a strong campaign by the NDP, a centre of the road NDP platform as well as some latent concerns about the Wildrose party being too extreme for the taste of a large segment of Alberta voters. Add to this pretty much half of the regular support the PC party was used to getting being rather angry at the actions of Jim Prentice and you end up with a near perfect political storm where the NDP get elected with a sizeable majority government in that conservative bastion of Alberta.<br /><br />Where do things go from here? What should the various parties do moving forward? What does this mean federally?<br />Well for Alberta it means a centre left government (that’s right CENTRE-left, not far left. If you think Ezra Levant is middle of the road and mainstream, you’re views are the outlier). Though there is likely to be a rebalancing of government priorities away from corporations and toward <br />the citizenry. Notley is a New Democrat in the Tommy Douglas and Roy Romanow tradition (ever notice how the RWNJ’s never mention those two and their 25ish balanced budgets) which means a healthy dose of pragmatism. The unrestrained wild west that has been the oil industry is likely over, but it won’t be a major shackling, let alone outright ban on industry. If Notley stays on a centre-left path, she’ll do well and so will the province, unless of course the industry deliberately sabotages the economy in a fit of spite for the people voting the "wrong" way - which I wouldn't put past some of the players.<br /><br />For the Wildrose Party it means looking past the excuses being bandied about in the media about vote splitting and how that's not the "real" Alberta and take a hard look at the Wildrose platform to see what scared half the PC vote into the NDP's arms and not a further right Wildrose party. Without visible movement to the centre, people will still think "lake of fire" or "vote for me because I'm white" when they think of Wildrose and they'll continue to vote for a more moderate PC party or a moderate NDP.<br /><br />For the Progressive Conservative party, a rapid shift to the right isn't the answer. There's already a party there and they didn't win. Maintaining a centre-right position is, in the long term, the winning strategy. It wasn't a rejection of a centre-right position in the last election but a rejection of a tired, old 44 year government that had become too entrenched and entitled. Vacating this position will allow the Alberta Party to sop up the middle since the 20ish percent of the vote you got isn't likely to follow you to far to the right.<br /><br />What about a merger of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties? Might work if it swings to the middle of the PC support base, but if it is simply a takeover of the PC party by the Wildrose, it is likely not going to work as many of those who left for the NDP won't come back. Those people will shift their vote to a centrist party like the Alberta Party. So I would suggest that when pursuing a merger of the PC and Wildrose parties to be cautious, a swing to the WRP position won't work as the election has aptly shown.<br /><br />Federally it should give Stephen Harper some restless nights. Though most of Alberta will still likely flock to the polls to mark an X beside the local Conservative bale of hay, there are many ridings in Edmonton where the NDP took an absolute majority of the vote. This puts the seats in Edmonton in play in the next federal election and if seats in Alberta are now in play, seats in the rest of the country are also likely in play. The federal Tories shouldn't take the seats they have for granted anymore. Further one of their own, Jim Prentice, couldn't win an election in the Bluest of Conservative provinces. Prentice's arrogance permeates the federal Conservative party. It didn't play well in Alberta, it won't play well in the rest of Canada. If Harper wants to hold on to power it's time to break out the humble and contrite Harper. I don't think that's going to be happening anytime soon. <br /><br />For the other federal parties it shows that there is hope of unseating Harper. It may mean having to make nice and form a coalition after the election, but it is possible to take down the Tories, even in their own house. The key is to keep the focus on Harper and not each other.<br /><br />In any event it will be an interesting year ahead. Sat, 09 May 2015 09:15:06 -0600 Food Babe Vani Hari ?Scientifically Ignorant or Con Artist? https://www.google.com//d4d/article.php?story=20150503005540390 <p>A few months ago I became aware of a blogger known as Food Babe. This is the nom de plume of one Vani Hari, a self-styled "food activist". Now the way I came to know of her is through an article she wrote for her followers on the "dangers" of air travel (more on this later). After some further research it is apparent that Hari is either very ignorant of science or is a con artist who's able to parley fear into having people hand money over to her for her "advice".</p> <p>To begin who is Hari? Well her previous profession prior to becoming a blogger was of a <a href="http://trib.in/1K1mtBX">banking consultant with formal training in computer science</a>. At this point it is important to note that she has no training in chemistry or nutrition. One could argue that she was self taught at Google U., but the following example will show that she failed even that:</p> <p>At one point, either through sheer ignorance or in an attempt to instil fear in her followers, <a href="http://evl.link/d">Hari claims that propylene glycol is found in beer.</a> In a <a href="http://evl.link/e">broken clock</a> moment she correctly identifies propylene glycol as a form of antifreeze. What she fails to point out is that it is used as a non-toxic alternative to the more toxic ethylene glycol and that propylene glycol, like water, is only toxic in large amounts. The anti-freeze argument is bogus since brine (salt water) is also used as an anti-freeze and salt is essential to life. It's a pure scare tactic with no basis in science used on the hope that her readers are as ignorant about chemistry as she seems to be (or plays at being)</p> <p>Well apparently someone pointed out that propylene glycol in the brewing industry is used as a coolant (presumably since it has very low toxicity leaks are less of a concern). So she then basically goes <a href="http://evl.link/f"><em>oh I meant propylene glycol alginate<em></em></em></a> presumably because she thinks (or at the least hope her readers think) that since the chemical contains the term "propylene glycol" that it's the same thing. Except it isn't. Propylene glycol alginate is an ester of alginic acid which is extracted from kelp. That's right it's an all natural and organic ingredient. Further propylene glycol has the chemical formula C<sub>3</sub>H<sub>8</sub>O<sub>2</sub> whereas propylene glycol alginate has the chemical formula C<sub>9</sub>H<sub>14</sub>O<sub>7</sub>. To say they are the same thing is to say that water (H<sub>2</sub>2O<sub>2</sub>).</p> <p> [image1]<br /> <em>(Hey Foodbabe Army, better get on this dangerous chemical)</em></p> <p>So what we have here is an example of either how little Hari knows of even <em>basic high school</em> chemistry or that the hopes that the rubes that follow her and provide her with money have no understanding of chemistry. </p> <p>Now one could say it was a one off but it seems to permeate her entire site. Blogs by actual scientists such as <a href="http://evl.link/g">Joe Schwartz of McGill</a> have taken her to task on her many errors that if she had actually done any research she wouldn't have made.</p> <p>Further adding to this her "don't eat any chemical you can't pronounce" mantra is utter folly. For example lets look at a banana:<br /> <a href="http://evl.link/h">[image2]</a><br /> <em>Click on image for full size PDF</em><br /> Lots of chemicals in there, most of which are pretty hard to pronounce, let alone know what they are. Some of them in large enough doses are lethal in humans. Should you not eat bananas? According to Hari the answer is no since it contains nasty chemicals.</p> <p>Now not only does she not have a firm grasp on chemistry but she's posted some doozies in the past that she's tried to disappear from the internet (one would think that someone with a degree in computer science knows that once you post something to the internet, it's there forever). First is <a href="http://evl.link/i">her article on flying</a> which is so rife with inaccuracies that when I use it in a class on critical thinking I have students (gr 9-10) laughing at it <em>before I even go over what's wrong with the article</em>. Think about that for a moment ?14 and 15 year old kids figure out that she's full of crap whereas her "army" has yet too. Looking at this article we can add that Hari also doesn't know a) the composition of the Earth's atmosphere and b) how airplanes work. To be fair she has a couple of stopped clock moments in the article, but the vast majority of it is hopelessly wrong.</p> <p>Then there's her <a href="http://evl.link/j">microwave oven article</a> (also disappeared) which can only be described as bovine scatology that a simple Google search would have prevented. I can only think that she just made the whole thing up, either because she is so ignorant of physics and chemistry that she believes it, or like the spelling errors in a scam letter, she posted it to clear her followers of anyone capable of critical thought.</p> <p>So Hari presents large swaths of information that are demonstrably wrong. When she makes errors she either doubles down, ignores them or tries to disappear them. So at the very least she's intellectually dishonest. But at this point is she simply a woefully misinformed do-gooder or an actual scam artist?</p> <p>Well lets look at what we have so far: Hari presents wrong information. When the information is so wrong even a child can see through it, instead of saying that the information was wrong and correcting it, she disappears it. When people with actual training in the fields of chemistry and nutrition point out the other information as wrong, instead of going "whoops" and correcting the problem, she attacks the messenger as well as claiming she was "misinterpreted". These are not the hallmarks of a misinformed do-gooder, but of someone who's livelihood is dependent on a continual stream of marks coming to her website to buy stuff (some of which <a href="http://evl.link/k">containg the very same chemicals she says not to use</a> or <a href="http://evl.link/l">as much sugar as many beverages she pans</a>) trying to protect her reputation as "knowledgeable".</p> <p>This has her leaning into con artist territory. She tells you not to eat certain things, but then makes money off of selling you things that contain the very same things. When her errors are pointed out, instead of correcting them she either disappears them or accuses those of pointing out her errors as being part of some big food conspiracy against her and her followers. Her actions are ones of someone who is creating a brand of herself for her own personal gain and defending that brand just like the food companies she bashes.</p> <p>So is Hari scientifically illiterate or a con artist? The scientific illiteracy is demonstrable, though could be an act. The fact she sells many of the "chemicals" that she opposes suggests she either doesn't check her labels as well as she tells everyone else to or knows that the stuff is there but would rather make a fast buck than be honest with her <del>marks</del> fans.</p> <p>Some links to some other criticism of Hari:<br /> <a href="http://evl.link/m">And they say I'm in it for the money?</a><br /> <a href="http://evl.link/n">The Food Babe Hath Spoken, And Subway Bread Will Still Suck</a><br /> <a href="http://evl.link/o">Is The Food Babe A Fearmonger? Scientists Are Speaking Out: The Salt: NPR</a><br /> <a href="http://evl.link/p">Food Babe Vistis My University</a><br /> <a href="http://evl.link/q">Scam Stud</a> (My favourite quote out of this one:<em> I admire the way Food Babe can take a complex and nuanced topic and distill it down to an aliquot of pure error. It is a talent rarely seen outside of the Tea Party. </em><br /> <a href="http://evl.link/r">Making One's Own Reality ?Food Babe Edtion</a><br /> </p> <p>These are just a small number of criticisms of Hari, most by actual scientists and physicians. The fact that Hari can gain such a following is truly an indictment on the state of science education in North America.</p> Sun, 03 May 2015 00:55:40 -0600