It's not enough to bash in heads, you have to bash in minds

Category Archives: Blog

This is science; it is not something to toy with

It is not something to say I chose not to believe e-mc2; YOU DONT HAVE THAT OPTION!

When you have an established scientific emergent truth, it is true whether or not you belive in it and the sooner you understand that the faster we can get on with the political conversation about how to solve the problems that face us.

Every minute one is in denial you are delaying the political solution that should have been established years ago.

The very definition of willful ignorance

Chair of House Science Committee Says the Journal ‘Science’ Is Not Objective

Chairman Lamar Smith dismissed commentary presented during testimony on climate change because it came from the journal Science — one of the oldest and most prestigious scientific publications in existence.

It rare to see such a wilful disregard of reality, it is absolutely devastating to see it from the Chair of the House Science Committee.

As was eloquently said by Richard Feynman, “Science is what we do to keep from lying to ourselves.”.

Lamar Smith clearly prefers comfortable but disastrous lies instead of reality.
Continue Reading

I am getting radiated

The hope is that the radiation will stop the growth of my tumour. It wont’t, however, remove it. The success rate is roughly equivalent of the success rate of surgery (90%), and there is a greater chance of not loosing function on the left side of my face and keeping whats left of my hearing in my left ear.

They also wont have to drill out the bone behind my ear and remove the bones of my middle ear.

Instead they will make a mask of my face, take another MRI and CT scan, then I’ll go get radiated 5 times a week for 5 weeks. I likely wont even lose my hair, but they made me shave my beard.

That’s the good news (well except for the bit requiring me to shave).

The bad news is that the radiation has a 1% chance of causing cancer in the next 10-15 years; the type of cancer that doesn’t lend itself to a good outcome. And when a radiation oncologist says that you know it is serious.

But it’s only 1%, so it probably wont happen…

Ya that doesn’t bring me very much comfort either.

Hans Rosling

Hans Rosling, one of the most enlightening science communicators, passed away last week.

It was his first Ted talk that thrust renowned Swedish academic Hans Rosling into the international spotlight in 2006, billed as the man in whose hands data sings. Since then, the statistician more likely to illustrate an idea with a few multi-coloured lego bricks than a PowerPoint has been described as everything from a data guru to a Jedi master of data visualisation.

He died on Tuesday, aged 68, after a year-long illness, surrounded by his family in Uppsala, Sweden.

I think Hans’ best talk was his magic washing machine talk, it perfectly sums up the difficulty (but necessity) of balancing development and environmentalism.

It really is worthwhile to watch the rest of his TED talks.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

The greatest story ever told ended today:

Stuart McLean, the host of CBC Radio’s The Vinyl Café and an award-winning humorist, has died at age 68 after a battle with melanoma.

McLean’s trademark blend of storytelling — part nostalgia, part pithy observations about everyday life — and folksy, familiar delivery made him a hit with audiences for more than 20 years.

Stuart McLean’s stories were immediately captivating, comforting, funny, and different from anything else on the radio. His unique voice will be missed.

I Have a Tumour…

I have a tumour; the good news is that the doctors believe it is benign. The bad news is that while it may be non-malignant it definitely isn’t benign (at least not by any reasonable definition of benign).

I have a facial nerve schwannoma. It is a slow-growing, rarely malignant tumour growing around my left facial nerve in and around the middle ear and ear canal. It is already causing the left side of my face to become weak and have restricted movement, on top of that it is causing hearing loss, mild ear pain and non-stop tinnitus.

The treatment options aren’t very good (hence me not liking the term benign).

The most likely option is surgery, but the several doctors have repeatedly told me that the surgery is very tricky and that the tumour is very extensive; things you never want to hear from your doctor. The surgery is likely to leave the left side of my face paralyzed and recovery is not guaranteed. My ear canal will likely have to be closed up which will significantly reduce hearing in my left ear. There is also a moderate risk to my cochlea and vestibular system in my inner ear and a small risk to the nerves that control some of my tongue and throat movement.

Another option is radiation therapy, but that poses many similar risks, and doesn’t actually remove the tumour, it just slows/stops its growth. The negative effects of the radiation wouldn’t show up right away but over time could become very serious. For this reason it is usually not recommended for people my age who expect to be around for several decades. It is also possible that my tumour is too large and extensive to be effectively treated by radiation.

None of these options are particularly encouraging, but leaving the tumour alone would lead to an even worse fate. So something must be done. What? I don’t yet know. I have been meeting with several specialists to get an idea of what the best course of action would be.

Personally I am getting by with equal doses of anxiety, denial, and fear. The next year will be difficult but I will get through it. I am lucky to have a very supportive wife, family, friends, and employer to help me through this difficult time.

Republican ‘elder statesmen’ officially call for a carbon tax

This is exceedingly good news! Yes these elder statesmen Republicans aren’t elected members of the government, and yes it will be difficult to convince elected Republicans of the importance of climate change, but this is what a first step looks like.

In fact once you get past the knee jerk reactions, a revenue-neutral carbon tax is a very small government/free market solution, and could be a responsible way to dismantle the Obama-era climate regulations while at the same time making real progress on climate mitigation. In fact a proper carbon tax is in many ways superior to the regulatory approach taken by the Obama administration (though Republicans at the time ensured that this was the only option available to Obama).
Continue Reading

Things not to do on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Trump Bars Refugees and Citizens of 7 Muslim Countries

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday closed the nation’s borders to refugees from around the world, ordering that families fleeing the slaughter in Syria be indefinitely blocked from entering the United States, and temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries.

In an executive order that he said was part of an extreme vetting plan to keep out “radical Islamic terrorists,” Mr. Trump also established a religious test for refugees from Muslim nations: He ordered that Christians and others from minority religions be granted priority over Muslims.

1 week down, 207 to go.

This is what the politicization of science looks like

For a while now, those who deny climate change (like the majority of elected Republican officials) have complained that climate science has been politicized and therefore cannot be trusted. The evidence for this has always fallen apart under the most superficial of scrutiny.

Yet less than a week into the Trump presidency we have a textbook example what the polarization of science actually looks like:

Trump administration: EPA studies, data must undergo political review before release

Review extended to content on agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence of climate change and that manmade carbon emissions are to blame

The Trump administration is mandating that any studies or data from scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency undergo review by political appointees before they can be released to the public.

The communications director for Donald Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, said on Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency’s website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth’s climate is warming and manmade carbon emissions are to blame.

Former EPA staffers said on Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.

It doesn’t get any clearer than this. Data and scientific studies need to be approved by a political appointee before it can be released to the public. This is a textbook definition of political manipulation of science.

You cannot win a fight against reality.

The pipeline opponents have to keep on winning forever, while those trying to build them only have to win once

The opponents of the Keystone XL and other pipelines have to keep on winning, forever, while those trying to build pipelines, or similar projects, only have to win once

I said those words 4 years ago, and sadly it looks like I was right:

President Trump signed an executive action today to push forward the Dakota Access pipeline as well as the Keystone XL pipeline.

I wish being right felt better.

Fidel Castro


Fidel Castro was the best Dictator the Cubans ever had, But Cubans deserve better than a dictatorship.