Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent is Cool

So we're off. It's Ash Wednesday and the journey that Catholics and many other Christians observe in preparation for Easter has begun. Traditionally this is a time of self denial and charitable giving. In other more archaic words its mortification and almsgiving. If you let it, Lent might seem like a downer with little appeal in today's culture; but it doesn’t have to be.

Incidentally, I've had a blast at work the last few days as a few of my co-workers discussed what we would give up for lent; I'm giving up potato chips and number puzzles like sudoku, some of my colleagues are giving up chocolates. We're very supportive but not everyone is helpful, one of the ladies who gave up chocolates brought in several bags of potato chips for the sole purpose of making my promise more difficult to keep. (It's unimaginable how some people can be so cruel . . . I'm glad I took the preemptive strike of filling a big jar with chocolate Easter eggs, or I wouldn't have been able to bear it.)

Despite the pressure, we've all been able to keep our Lenten promises for the first day. The neat thing is how many non-religious people at work are joining in the fast, giving up various foods or luxuries. Some are just looking for another reason to diet, but I think the truth is Lent is a refreshing opportunity to just say no to yourself in a culture that tells us we need everything we want right now. It's a great break from being a slave to every little desire, no wonder Lent is catching on.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Conservatives Reject So-Con Candidate

This is not good news for democracy. The Conservative Party recently rejected a well qualified, but socially conservative, candidate on a technicality that looks bogus. The facts so far suggest that Heather Stilwell's candiacy is being blocked because of her socially conservative views. This is very disturbing for a party that has traditionally claimed to be in favour of grassroots democracy (letting people choose who will represent them).

I don't know what Heather Stilwell believes, I never heard of her before today, but I will say that democracy itself is threatened when any individual is prevented from participating in the democratic process because they have strong opinions. Politicians are supposed to have strong opinions.

You'll find more coverage here:

Magic Statistics
Smok Wawelski
Joanne's Journey
Langley Politics
So-Con or Bust

In the meantime, please express your concerns directly to Stephen Harper's office:

Telephone: (613) 992-4211
Fax: (613) 941-6900

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Environmentalists had it All Wrong

Remember Acid Rain? According to this farm newsletter, corn farmers need to use more sulphur in their fertilizer because of reduced levels of sulphur in rain water:

The importance of sulphur (S) for corn production is well known and the rates required for optimum production have been studied.

Sulphur, a plant nutrient, is required by crops in an amount usually less than the macro-nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (Potash) but at larger amounts than others. A corn crop could require 25 lbs/acre or more for optimum yield.

Over the years we believed crops in Southern Ontario received adequate sulfur from air pollution, in the form of “acid rain”. With society’s efforts to improve air
quality, the amount of sulphur in rainfall is diminishing. Some studies have shown a 32% reduction between 1980 and 2003, with more improvements on the way.

Most fertilizer materials used today do not contain any sulphur. As crop yields improve additional sulphur, along with other nutrients, are required to sustain yields. Sulphur plays an important role in the formation and decomposition of soil organic matter. A proper balance of nitrogen and sulfur is important for crop development.

Sulphur is as important as nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium in plant metabolic functions, is an important component in plant proteins, and in the formation of chlorophyll. Plants lacking sulphur will become yellow and chlorotic. When soil phosphorous levels are high and sulphur is low, magnesium uptake is reduced even if magnesium levels are abundant.

Sulphur, usually in the sulphate form, has a negative charge and as a result is subject to leaching. Sulphur should be part of any fertilizer program, especially on sandy and low organic matter soils.

Funny no? Just one thought for the eco-doom crowd; Before we decide to cripple our economies for new initiatives, don't forget everything we do has both intended and unitended consequences.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

CSIS Better Have a File on This Guy

Amir Attaran, has triggered an investigation into how Canadian soldiers have treated Afghan detainees. The Globe and Mail reported:

At least one, and perhaps three, Afghan detainees "taken captive by the Canadian Forces appears to have been beaten while detained and interrogated by them," alleges Amir Attaran, a University of Ottawa law professor, in a letter sent to the commission.

The allegations are based on documents obtained by Mr. Attaran under the Access to Information Act outlining injuries in the cases.

Presumably Mr Attaran was on a fishing expedition requesting all available records from our military. Through all of this he found one detainee who was a suspected bomb maker and continually resisted Canadian Forces ended up with some cuts and bruises, likely of his own making. The Canadian Forces stated:
When transferred to Military Police stationed at Kandahar Airfield, the detainee continued to display extreme agitation as well as belligerent and totally unco-operative behaviour. Already restrained by nylon straps to his wrists while being guided by Military Police, the detainee used his legs to leverage himself off the back of a vehicle in an effort to generate resistance against the Military Police escorting him. In accordance with proper use of force procedures, Military Police used appropriate physical control techniques to restrain him from doing that.
It appears this is an open and shut case; the military have acted responsibly. The big question is what kind of Canadian would have an interest in systematically looking for evidence to discredit our forces? I think it's the responsibility of CSIS to find out. The second question is why is our major media so anxious to discredit our forces by painting responsible behaviour as scandalous?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

So Con Blogs

I've added another blog roll to my side bar. SoCon Blogs is a group of social conservative bloggers and Ontario Bloggers who support the socially conservative Family Coalition Party. The Family Coalition Party is a fringe party that has never elected a member of provincial parliament, but the party is a principled party that will raise issues that the major parties refuse to touch. Especially with John Tory leading the Ontario PC party, there's very little difference between the two parties on most major issues, and there is absolutely no debate on important social issues such as freedom of conscience for health care workers, or any measure that would respect the sanctity of life. The need for a party that will represent social conservatives in Ontario is as great as ever.

I want to thank Suzanne at Big Blue Wave and every one else who organized this new web effort. SoCon Blogs will be one of my regular reads.