Sunday, July 27, 2014

Super Low Saskatchewan Wall Cloud

Went out for a storm chase in the Kerrobert Saskatchewan area on July 23. There were no tornadoes, but several storms did have rotation. One in particular produced a lovely ultra-low wall cloud.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

War Weariness

"This phrase I've grown rather tired of, the American people are 'war weary', which is immensely insulting to the troops. The troops are out there dealing with it. The American people aren't weary. They just got bored with it.

My mother spent four years of her childhood in a town occupied by the Nazis: She was war-weary. The citizens of Coventry, England had their town blown to smithereens by the Luftwaffe: They were war-weary. If you're a citizen of Aleppo(Syria), you've had three years of car bombs, looting, executions, air strikes and mortar bombardment: You're war-weary.

But, unless you're one of the very small percentage of the US population whose family is in the military and has been touched by death or injury these last 13 years, this war has asked nothing of you. Nothing. By comparison with almost any other war in history, a smaller sliver of the citizenry has borne the burden and all everybody else had to do was put up with hearing about it for a minute on the news before "Real Housewives of New Jersey". And apparently that proved too much."

- Mark Steyn

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Muslim Reformation ... That Never Happened

Let me make it clear from the start, that the following essay focuses on Islam, not on Muslims. I believe that the average Muslim is more or less like you or I ... they want to live in peace and wish for a better life for themselves and their children. In short, they are good people. The topic here is Muslim and Christian foundations and beginnings.

Let's start.

There is an entrenched view among many Westerners that Islam has been hijacked by radicals. The view is based in Western "hope" that Islam is a peaceful religion ... that it is like other religions ... and that its foundations are basically respectful of human rights.

What exactly this view is based on is uncertain. I suppose it's part wishful thinking or a result of humanist sentiment, or perhaps due to the influence of writers who assure us that Islamic doctrine is, in fact, benign.

Yet, if one is to judge Islam by its works, the picture that emerges is anything but comforting. Historically, Islam has persecuted non-Muslims each and every time it has held a plurality. Where Mulsims dominate(d), but did not persecute others, it was generally a result of colonial or dictatorial powers that held them in check. There are no exceptions. It is a fact which stands to this very day. Even in Turkey, which is often held up as a positive example, non-Muslims have lived a tentative existence. Turkey may yet prove to be the first fully human rights respecting Islamic state ... but it is too soon to tell at this point, given her recent checkered past and reliance on military intervention to hold fundamentalism at bay.

Nevertheless, it is clear that whenever Islam becomes the dominant religion, non-Muslims become targets of persecution. Finding exceptions to this rule is a challenge.

There may be any number of reasons why Islam is so uncompromisingly supremacist, but one reason stands out among all others. That is the fact that the foundational texts of Islam are supremacist in the extreme ... to the point of advocating violence as the main form of enforcement. To read about Muhammad, whose example all Muslims are required to follow, is to read about a brutal chauvinist who used murder, deceit, theft and all kind of barbaric means to pursue his agenda. Furthermore, he took the chauvinism common in his time and expanded on it, making Christian chauvinism of the era pale in comparison.

Compare this to Christianity. Anyone at all familiar with Christian foundational texts, understands immediately that Christianity is by and large a pacifist religion. Christian foundational texts focus on spirituality and are almost completely devoid of political guidance. Christian foundations can best be described as "turn the other cheek". Muslim foundations can best be described as "smite the unbelievers."

To understand the difference between the two, one must understand the historic context in which each came into being.

Christianity came into being under the reality of Imperial Rome. Early Christians could not conceive of life apart from Roman dominance. As a result, the religion offers virtually nothing in the way of political instruction. Literally, it leaves the "sorting out" to God in the afterlife. For example, the ordering of punishment for "sin" is a matter to be dealt with between the sinner and God when the sinner dies; no earthly “legal” remedy is offered. Roman law was so over arching, that to suggest any form of material reward, sanction, or other, would have been to challenge Roman law and order. Furthermore, there was no chance, even remotely, of expanding Christianity using the sword ... so early Christians expanded the religion using the persuasion of ideas, good works, and a message that promised eternal life based on belief in Christ. Early Christians focused on the example of their prophet, Jesus Christ, who set about as pacifist an example as could be. His primary tenet was, "the greatest of these is love".

Contrast this with early Islam, where the founder had no powerful and dominating Roman empire to contend with. Muhammad and later Muslims were able to expanded their faith solely via the sword. After a fragile start, Muhammad plundered his way to dominance. Muslims became the masters of their destiny and their religion became law where they lived. Muhammad died ruler of his realm; a realm that expanded bloody year after bloody year. As a result, Islam needed not be pacifist, it needed not to moderate, it needed not to compromise. It moved far beyond spiritual matters and became a way of governance, of economy, of war, of life, and death. Islam, became a road map for all aspects of life and governance ... today we call it Sharia.

Critics will no doubt recall the violent excesses of the Church of Rome, and they will be correct in doing so. Christianity, despite its pacifist foundations, has been used by political forces over centuries to enact all sorts of violence. Once it became the dominant religion in Southern Europe, it's pacifist nature was quickly circumvented for any number of reasons, but none of these reasons could either then or now be justified using foundational Christian texts. As a result, Christians have always struggled back to their pacifist and peaceful roots. Why? Because their foundational texts are such, they find more than ample reason there for coexisting peacefully with others. In fact, it is a great theological stretch for Christians to march to war. When they do, they do so largely because their foundational texts deal almost exclusively with spiritual matters and don't cross over into governance, offering little guidance on political matters. This fact is critical to our discussion.

Moderate Muslim reformers have no such reality. There is no "peaceful" Islam to return to. Muslims who value modern notions of human rights and liberty must work counter to their prophet, they must, in fact, reject his example. They have no "Jesus" to follow. Their prophet is a barbaric sadist. Their early texts are a prescription for human rights abuses, for war, and for utter and total domination of others. There early deeds are conquest, pillage, and the subjugation of all their neighbours. Islam was born of war and violence. Since there is no peaceful Islam for reformers to go back to, it can be argued that true Muslims are those we Westerners call radicals, for they seek the supremacist Islam of Muhammad; while the true "radicals" are those who seek to reform Islam into something more compatible with the Western ideals of liberty and freedom.

That is why Muslim apostates like Wafa Sultan, Hirsi Ali, and others, argue for "transformation". They understand from experience and education that there is no peaceful Islam to go back to ... the concept of "peaceful Islam"  in the Western sense of "peace", is a myth, a construct of ignorant Westerners, deceitful Muslims, or worse yet, delusional but well-meaning secular Muslims who after 1400 years still can't admit to the violent core of their faith. It's time that Westerners realize that while individual Muslims may be peace loving, their religion is anything but.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oppulence and Sacrifice

by: Junker (2006)

In a time of urgent crisis what would you give? What’s worth fighting for?

The Canadian Forces will most likely not reach their recruitment goals this year. Currently, the forces aren’t facing attrition, but any plans to expand seem impossible at the moment. Unless Canadians in general have a dramatic change of heart, force expansion just isn’t in the cards because not enough people are signing up. At the same time, our small Armed Forces, which are still under-equipped in many areas, face numerous growing challenges.

In Afghanistan, the going is tough, and sure to get tougher. With Islamists just across the boarder posturing and posing and giving every inclination that they want a war, things could yet get very much worse. With funds from Iran and Pakistan available to fanatics, the risk to Canadians is not going away any time soon. A democratic Afghanistan needs our help to shake off its local fanatics, yet global events threaten to engulf the comparatively minor happenstance of tribal Afghanistan and turn it into something much bigger, and much bloodier.

All of this raises the question; what are you willing to give for the cause? Is the cause worth it? Is any cause worth it? Hell, do you even believe in "the cause?" Are you in the 18-30 bracket and have you ever honestly considered joining the military? Would that be too much sacrifice for you? Try this then; what government handouts or percent of your paycheck are you willing to part with in order to ensure that those who fight in your name do so with the deadliest and best possible weapons and equipment in hand? These questions may seem obvious, but I can’t help but feel that few have taken the time to seriously ponder them.

In a recent speech, the incisive Victor Davis Hanson noted that empires do not often fall from squalor, rather they succumb in moments of greatness. He cited Rome as an example, and a prime example it is.

Having weathered a Gallic invasion and re-asserted itself in Italy, Post-Etruscan Rome faced its greatest military adversary, Hannibal, in the second Punic War. As a General, Hannibal was brilliant. While several times fought to a draw, Hannibal succeeded in wiping out numerous Roman armies. Indeed, throughout his long career in warfare, Hannibal suffered only one decisive defeat, but it was that defeat that made the difference. While the strategy and tactics of the battles and war can be minutely discussed, the one vital attribute and advantage that carried the Romans to victory was the same determination that carried them to that final battle with Hannibal, and to every battle preceding it.

Again and again Hannibal proved his dominance on the battlefield by encircling and wiping out entire Roman armies. And again and again, the Romans would rally, reform their armies, and march back to war. The Etruscan-style military organization which the Romans used at the time may seem counterintuitive to us in our modern age. Every male Roman citizen was required to serve, provide his own armor and equipment, and put his life on the line. Truly, it was all for one, and the Romans refused to let defeat on the battlefield translate to defeat in war. At war's end, the Romans had lost nearly every battle and countless lives, but their determination had won the final battle, and the war.

Several centuries later the little city state of Rome had, with that same perseverance, carved out an enormous empire. And yet, the determination of the Romans themselves began to falter. It is said that eventually the great majority of the Roman army wasn’t composed of Romans at all. While the “true Romans” sat in their supreme opulence in Rome and Constantinople, the empire was picked apart by minor barbarian kings; a wide array of relative nobodies compared to Hannibal. By the time of Attila, who was still comparatively a lightweight, the Romans quickly reverted to bribery and appeasement. In the end, the accessions were always proceeded by war, war that the Romans were unwilling to see through.

The parallels to be drawn are obvious. Western civilization has reached levels of wealth and affluence unsurpassed anywhere in history. Yet in our “progressive” magnificence, we may have lost our will to fight for what we hold dear. To be sure, the pursuit of peace is a most noble undertaking, yet we are often too quick to forget that beyond our boarders are more than a few modern day barbarians who share none of our enlightened outlook. Through training and technology, our soldiers may reign supreme on the battlefield, but our civilization on the whole may have grown vulnerable in its affluence, opulence, progressiveness, and humanistic enlightenment. Cruder, more blunt forces unhindered by these, may now hold the advantage. Through a shortsighted lens it may be difficult, nay impossible, to imagine the fall of our own civilization, yet history's precedent says that it is all too likely.

Which brings us back to the beginning. In a time of urgent crisis what would you give? What’s worth fighting for?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Glory of Western Civilization in Video

It was pointed out to me the other day that the incredible accomplishments of Western Civilization are by and large taken for granted these days; taken for granted not only by Westerners ... but by those billions of souls who have benefited but whose cultures and histories have contributed little other than raw material, brawn, and basic design, be it the potato, laborer, or sextant. The sextant, in particular, demonstrates the point in that its inventors were only interested in finding the direction to Mecca so as to pray accordingly ... it took Europeans to unleash the contraption and discover the world.

Indeed, non-Westerners have at times ushered in technological leaps, some lasting for expansive periods (Ancient Egypt) ... but for one reason or another, which we won't delve into here, they have waned.  The West, from the time of the Greeks to the post-modern era has produced wave upon wave of advance, the result of which has been unprecedented health, personal autonomy, and well being for its people.  

It galls me to know end then, that the posterior of our civilization, that being the self-styled "progressive", gets so much traction for minimizing the accomplishments of the West and giving far too much deference to modern day barbarians ... those whose spiritual universe is grounded to Mecca and whose conceptual map is more fitting an 8th Century caravan raider than a delegate to the United Nations.

Enjoy the video below (on full screen), and perhaps feel a bit of pride for being one of those dominating, conquering, inventive, inspiring, free-living, Westerners:

An interesting read ... here.
We are made to think that until Europe started to advance economically in the 1500s this continent could not have been anything else but an undeveloped ‘backwater’. What about the unsurpassed intellectual and artistic achievements of Westerners going back to ancient times: the Greek invention of dialectics, the polis, philosophy, historical writing, prose writing, and tragic poetry; the Hellenistic ‘revolution’ in the natural sciences, Aristarchus and his heliocentric hypothesis, Eratosthenes and his estimation of the earth’s diameter, Archimedes and his foundations of hydrostatics, Euclid and his Elements, (called by Bertrand Russell ‘one of the greatest books ever and one of the most perfect monuments of the Greek intellect’ (3)), the new philosophies of Cynicism, Epicureanism, Stoicism; the Roman republican style of government and their invention of a legal persona, Livy’s massive history of Rome, Tacitus’s Annals, the essays of Seneca, the comedies of Plautus, and the poems of Virgil, Ovid, and Lucretius; St. Paul and his new dispensation and religion for all humans, St Augustine and his confessional penetration into the individual’s inner space, Capellanus and a vernacular literature dealing with love, romance, and seduction, El Cid and a vernacular poetry dealing with the epic, Dante and the placement of vernacular literature on a par with biblical and classical literature, Chaucer and the freeing of poetic diction, the use of participial constructions, and a wider vocabulary with polysyllabic words, Ockham’s nominalism and the view that universal essences are nothing more than concepts in the mind, Cistercians, Victorines, Franciscans, Dominicans and the proliferation of heterodox religious movements, and the democratization and laicization of mystical experience?

These, and so many other achievements, are exceptionally Western and can never be downloaded by other cultures.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Greatest Action Story Ever Told

Coming this summer to a theatre near you, it's the most anticipated cinematic epic of the millennium: Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story!
It began like any other day in the Republic. The people commuted to work, the radios played, and the golfing weather was fair. No one could have predicted that a series of malicious events were about to unfold that would leave humanity dangling on the brink. And only one man was willing to step blindly into the colossal game of chance, a game where the stakes were the very existence of existence itself!

Wesley Snipes is Samuel L. Jackson as Will Smith playing Barack Obama in Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story! Also starring Megan Fox as movie mega-star Megan Fox as the woman who loved him! And starring Nicholas Cage as Mr. Vanderbelt, the deadly ninja assassin with a heart of gold. Truly a story for the ages, Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story! is the gripping retelling of the epic of our time.

With the clock ticking, Obama is in a race against time. Embroiled in humanity's greatest struggle for survival, even he cannot stand alone. A most unlikely band of heroes must join him. Dolph Lundgren is Mace 'Dolph' Mahoney, the Swedish mob boss out to avenge the death of his unborn son. Nick Nolte plays Sergeant Major Killmore, the crusty alcoholic leader of the crack, super-elite, crack, super-secret super-force of crack operatives, Seal Force Delta. Mickey Rourke is the aging Gestapo hit-man Baron Clause von Schtickengruebber. And introducing pop star sensation "Kesha", Kesha Rose Sebert, in her first appearance on the big screen as Vanessa Wentworth Struthersfield, the British Secret Agent and super-vixen with a dark past that threatens to unwind the best laid plans of this unlikely gang of champions.

Yes it's Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story! The true story of global catastrophe, a modern day Hercules, and the dark forces arrayed against him. Charlie Sheen stars as evil mastermind Osama Bin Laden, in what critics are calling "an Oscar bi-winning performance for the ages!" And Keanu Reeves stars as Ahkmed Zwari Ahmed, Al-Qaeda super-assassin, four time suicide bomber, and leader of Osama's elite hit squad, "The Fatwa Five".

Romance and suspense loom at every corner in Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story! Megan Fox is "Transformers" superstar and contemporary sex symbol Megan Fox in "the greatest romance story since Romeo and Juliet". Will the burning love of sexpot Megan Fox for President Obama be enough to carry him through calamity, or will hearts be torn asunder? Can the simple love of a woman for a man slip the surly bounds of earth as Obama and his elite team hurtle towards Bin Laden's secret moon base aboard a Saturn 5 rocket in a desperate do or die attempt to save the universe?

The New York Time's raves, "Finally, an action movie for the age of hope and change!" Yes Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story! is truly the greatest story ever told. If you see only one movie this year, you can’t afford to miss the action, suspense, romance, drama, comedy, and toe tapping musical numbers of Executive Termination: The True Real-Life Obama/Osama Story!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Fire Ice

The energy stored in methane clathrate deposits on Earth has been estimated at twice that in all conventional hydrocarbon deposits of oil, gas, and coal.


The Canadian and Japanese team will describe how they got the hydrates to release gas, like bubbles out of champagne. In a world first, the team got a production well to generate a steady flow of gas for six days, fuelling a flame in the Arctic darkness.

“The message is quite clear, you can produce gas hydrates using conventional techniques,” says Scott Dallimore, a senior scientist at Natural Resources Canada, who co-led the project in the Mackenzie Delta. Over two winters the researchers drilled down more than a kilometre into a 150-metre-thick layer on the edge of the Beaufort Sea at Mallik — the most concentrated known deposit of the frozen fuel in the world.