Interesting stuff – 2016-10-31

Some interesting stuff for your Halloween.

The mountains are going to literally be wiped from the map because of global warming!!!

If you have been endowed with even a hint of critical thinking ability, this headline should leave you scratching your head. How in the world is that even possible? Extreme erosion from too much rain? Too much sunshine leading to an extreme drying effect so the wind can simply blow them away? How, seriously, is that possible?

Well, it turns out to be a whole lot simpler than that. You see, a few mountains only barely meet the (completely arbitrarily invented) standard of what differentiates a “mountain” from a “hill.” It turns out that mountains “must be at least 609.6 metres above sea level” in order to be considered a mountain. That’s 2,000 ft, for those who are interested. “[T]here are several peaks in England, Scotland and Wales that are only a few centimetres over that threshold.”

So as the sea level rises, those few peaks will no longer be considered mountains because their peaks will go from being above the threshold to being below the threshold.

All according to the completely arbitrary, humanly invented, definition of “mountain.”

Without any actual physical change to the mountain / hill.

It must have been a slow day at the newspaper.

I’m no climate alarmist (in case you didn’t notice) but I do still fully endorse all reasonable efforts to pursue alternative energy sources. Even though we are nowhere close to running out of fossil fuels, that remains a distinct possibility in the distant future, and we should think ahead.

With that in mind, I was extremely intrigued by this recent discovery. Some scientists found a way to convert CO2 into ethanol. CO2 is a product of combustion, and ethanol is a fuel that we can burn. The process involves easily accessible, inexpensive materials. It takes place at room temperature. It only requires a little bit of electricity to make it happen. It could easily be scaled up to industrial capacity.

I’m not sure how great ethanol is as a fuel, but if it is less-than-ideal then there may be motivation to find ways of improving it, if we are able to produce it on a large scale from the very by-products of combustion.

Many other “eco-friendly” technologies are only marginally better than snake oil, but something like this, I believe, holds some real potential. Keep an eye on this one.

I blogged earlier about how important it is that humans discriminate. Under certain circumstances it is absolutely essential, in fact. For instance, would you want a blind guy as a pilot?

Or, would you want somebody with unresolved mental health issues being given law enforcement duties that included carrying a firearm?

It’s a touchy subject without a clear answer, in my opinion. But to chalk it up to “human rights” is just a little too simplistic. For somewhat obvious reasons we need to be extremely discriminatory when choosing who is commissioned to carry weapons on behalf of the nation. The bar needs to be set extremely high.

Here’s a fascinating (though obviously biased) comparison between the fiscal policies of Ralph Klein and the fiscal policies of Rachel Notley. There are some interesting takeaways. For instance,

Of note: in those years, Albertans without a high school education benefitted from the lowest unemployment rate in the country, with an average annual jobless rate of just 9.7 per cent for that group. In Quebec, where Notley’s preferred spend-more, tax-more, interventionist policies have been in play for decades, those without a high school education suffered from an annual unemployment rate of 14.5 per cent between 1999 and 2014.

This is a bit of an older story, but it emphasizes the importance of journalistic integrity and research. There was great national interest (South of the border) in the gang rape of a female freshman at the University of Virginia when it was publicized in Rolling Stone magazine.

Except, it almost certainly never happened.


And this is why the justice system needs to interrogate rape victims instead of automatically trusting them.

When considering the problems of evil and suffering it is common for God’s critics to ask, “where was God when…?” For instance, the mother who drowned herself and her kids in the car; where was God?

This is a deeply troubling question, and one that I don’t think enough Christians have truly wrestled with. However, there is a equally troubling question that I don’t think enough of God’s critics have wrestled with.

What about those times when God does appear to intervene?

Like when a man jumps off a bridge with his two sons into the river below, and both of the sons survive!

If we are going to shake our fist at God for not rescuing the children who died, are we going to be intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that God might just have had something to do with the two children who survived? Or, will we just blame God for bad stuff without thanking him for good stuff? The old “heads I win, tails you lose” game.

Perhaps we are deliberate in our selection bias.

There is an unprecedented amount of vitriol going on in the Presidential election, from both sides of the fight. This is creating a boon for the media, but also creating fissures in the general public.

So it is rather good news to hear that at least one of the lesser-publicized election fights is, well, hardly a fight at all. Two gentlemen in Texas – and they sincerely appear to deserve the title “gentlemen” – are campaigning against each other in what is being called the absurdly polite race. They compliment each other in public. They go for lunch together. They actually seem to like each other, and not just when the cameras on rolling.

And they don’t mind making fun of themselves. Or, more correctly, one of their wives gently poked fun at her campaigning husband in an official campaign video. Go to the link; it’s pretty cute.

Just remember, folks; it is possible. We need to rise about the nonsense associated with most political campaigns these days.