Good Afternoon

Specto here, formerly Flash, formerly the Most Interesting Man In The Room Only When He’s Alone.  Looking forward to resuming the incisive commentary we at Blevkog are known for. Come back and see us soon.




Polievre and the election wrinkle

It’s not exactly news that Stephen Harper and his merry band are willing to cut a few corners when it comes to getting democratically elected. It’s also probably not news that the party that has been found guilty on several occasions of major financial shenanigans when it comes to advertisements and campaigning has also found a way to potentially disenfranchise two voter blocks that are most likely to swing to the NDP or Liberals – natives and the young.

New rules put in place are designed to fix the “problem” of people voting with only a voter card, having been ‘vouched for’ by a neighbour or relative. Starting with the anticipated election this coming fall, all voters will have to provide identification that proves not only the name of the voter, but also their address. In the past, the voter card was considered enough to meet address requirement.

Having been a university student who traveled to another city to attend school, I know that the address requirement can be potentially difficult to prove – picture identification like passports or driver’s licenses are likely to show home addresses, not their current one. New regulations  found here require that all voters provide one piece of photo identification with the current voting address. Lacking that, the voter can opt to provide an  ID with their name and an additional piece of identification with name and address. Included in the list of valid IDs containing the address include utility bills with name and address, personal cheques with address, or income tax assessments.

Please make sure that you can meet these criteria before you head to the polls. I’d bring a few pieces of backup ID just in case something gets rejected for *any* reason.


Stretched Thin, Part 1

As some of you may be aware, during my more prolific days on the ‘Kog, I decried the decline in the quality of journalism, a trend which I directly attributed to the establishment of the 24-hour cable news stations. The need to fill airtime has superseded the need to inform, and has led, not to a better-informed viewership, but to an audience that lives on a steady diet of supposition, fluff masquerading as news, and political partisanship. 

Now, the phenomenon has reached a low point that even I didn’t think possible. CNN, the Turner-owned Cable News Network, which at one time had at least a veneer of respectability by comparison to its laughable competition, has now embarked on a journey into the realm of fantasy. 



I’m going to have to go with a ‘no’ on that. 


CNN’s Headline News Channel has seen fit to inflict upon the public the idea that psychics could be enlisted to find the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which is at best disrespectful to the families of the victims and at worst an insult to the intelligence of everyone within a 5-mile radius. The interview contained the following immortal quote: 

“Naturally, I don’t have hard, concrete evidence,” Lisa Williams confessed. “I think any psychic who has hard, concrete evidence can’t do their job correctly.”

That’s certainly the best description of how psychic abilities work that I’ve seen. Add to this indignity the theories that a black hole was responsible for the disappearance, as well as the all-time classic explanation: god did it. As The Daily Kos points out, “One of the problems with non-stop coverage of a particular event is that eventually… you run out of things to talk about.”

And that, my friends is the problem in a nutshell. The need to fill the endless hours have led to this type of idiocy, and the fact that the public feels better informed as a result is an indication of just how numbed our minds have become by the constant influx of background noise. This has led to the rise of ‘equal time’, which is in reality just filling time. Any scientific or authoritative claim that is made is supposedly in need of balance through the granting of airtime to representatives with an opposing view, no matter how ludicrous. This leads to the phenomenon of the ‘false equivalency’, a timeworn holdover from the proponents of postmodern thought that assert that all beliefs have validity, and we are evil white men to even question such things. 

The difficulty I have with this should be obvious: while people are indeed created equal*, ideas are not. If an engineer says “Evidence says that we should shut down this nuclear reactor due to the risks involved”, that should without question be taken orders of magnitude more seriously than “God says we should keep it operating”. Unfortunately, the distinction is lost on many more people than I am comfortable admitting. Ideas are created by human beings – flawed, weak, venal, selfish, greedy, virtuous, and generous human beings. We are hardwired by evolution to seek out the best possible advantage for ourselves, and if creating an ideology that serves our interests is the way to do it, then it’s as good as done. People are flawed, therefore ideas alone are not proof of anything other than the depth of conviction of the believer.

Add systematic testing of ideas to the mix, however, and you are onto something – the realm of theory. Do tests that are reliable enough, consistently get results that are repeatable under a wide range of circumstances and settings, and the system of checks and balances on the discovery of information we call ‘science’ is doing its job. Do all this well enough and you can shift long-standing paradigms in some fields. These are ideas, but they are ideas that are independently verified by a systematic, objective method and by a community that practices that method. The opposite to this? Guesswork, sloppy attempts to imitate the scientific method to manipulate results and find exactly what you are seeking, ideology, and dogma. Not fact in any sense of the word. Is science perfect? Probably not – there are good and bad physicists, as is true of any social group; it’s nearness to perfection lies in the ability and the willingness to open up your data and your methods to scrutiny by others in your field. In time, it’s the weight of accumulated evidence either proves or disproves a theory, not popularity or volume. 

Witness one of the best and most touching moments I’ve seen, wherein a scientist receives word that his life’s work in examining and trying to explain the origins of our universe in the Big Bang has been verified. He was right


You, sir, get a cookie. 

Nobody needs this ridiculous circus of misinformation thrown at them at all hours. We are less-informed rather than better-informed, and as a consequence our lives and our society are suffering. Being open-minded is a virtue, but keeping it so open that the wind whistles through on a blustery day is dangerous – and encouraging it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week is irresponsible and criminal. 



*No. People are not created. Relax. 


Pete Seeger tribute on CBC’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy

As you all know, Pete Seeger died Monday night after giving us music for the past 70-odd years (he was 94).  Last night CBC Radio’s Ideas with Paul Kennedy rebroadcasted a tribute to him that was originally produced a few years ago.  It’s really worth a listen:

A Tribute to Pete Seeger


Probably Someone Left the Refrigerator Open Again

photo credit to Johnny Ward of One Step Forward blog and yes, it was as cold there as it looks.

I love winter. I enjoy the cold and the wind. I love the watery quality to the light that you get here around 3:00pm on a sunny day and the silence of the forest around my cabin where the snow absorbs every sound. I even spent an hour or so today at Lawrencetown Beach watching the snow squalls roll in with the big combers, remembering when I used to sail for a living and how much I enjoyed steering a warship in that kind of weather.

Having said all of that, I recognize that my view on the season isn’t shared by all North Americans, particularly those who are experiencing  the wonder and joy of the polar vortex and all that that entails. However, there’s good news! Rush Limbaugh, the worlds most little known meteorological genius and well known clear thinker has declared it all to be a hoax . He’s never heard of one. Apparently you haven’t either and so  the Global Warming industrial complex, the one that Rush can prove controls the media, have invented it to push their own, probably socialist, purposes. Because if there’s anything Rush and his buddies are sure of it’s that things that they’ve never heard of before don’t exist. So take heart you poor freezing tea party supporters. Rush is ever ready to dig up a comforting truth for you.  Climate change on a global scale isn’t happening or creating catastrophic, world-wide weather events and all is as it should be,always has been and always will. I do have one question though. Does Limbaugh really believe the stuff he dreams up or is he actually the world’s greatest performance artist with a really long term act?