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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Doug Ford is about to change climate change policy for the whole country — and it's about time

Doug Ford’s victory in the Ontario Progressive Conservative leadership race changes the national climate policy picture in a significant way. Not because he is opposed to carbon taxes: Many other federal and provincial politicians are as well. What makes Ford different is his willingness to declare that he sees climate change as a secondary issue in comparison to basic bread-and-butter economic priorities.

Lots of politicians agree, but they are too nervous to say so. They find it safer to nod along with the loudest voices on the other side, whose righteous crusade against (as they see it) planet-destroying fossil fuels leads them to believe that any policy, no matter how extreme and costly, is never enough.

Ford’s realism may inspire others to join him. And his view is well in line with expert opinion. The most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after surveying the projected costs and benefits of climate change, concluded: “For most economic sectors, the impact of climate change will be small relative to the impacts of other drivers… Changes in population, age, income, technology, relative prices, lifestyle, regulation, governance and many other aspects of socioeconomic development will have an impact on the supply and demand of economic goods and services that is large relative to the impact of climate change.”

In other words, when it comes to the things that truly affect peoples’ day-to-day lives, climate change might belong on the list, but far down. Polls show that people have largely figured this out for themselves, with climate change consistently ranking far behind most other priorities.

Policy should reflect this...

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

I'd have thought the average Trump voter assumed he's had sex with at least a dozen porn actresses

Mark Steyn has this one right.

Trump voters couldn't care less about which or how many porn actresses with whom he had sex.

He wasn't elected to be a role model or a model paragon.

He was elected to bring about change, and that he's done.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Why John Bolton is no warmonger

Photo by Michael Vadon via Wikipedia
The hysteria from the Left over Donald Trump’s appointment of John Bolton as National Security Advisor to replace Lt. General H. R. McMaster has been partly hilarious, partly alarming to behold. From The Guardian in this country to The New York Times, CNN, Slate, Salon, and beyond in the United States, we are presented with a scarecrow figure who makes Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove look like Albert Schweitzer after a nap. ‘Yes’, screamed an editorial in The New York Times, ‘John Bolton Really Is That Dangerous’. Bolton is a ‘hawk’s hawk’, an ‘extreme ideologue’ and ‘warmonger’ whose appointment ‘scares people’ and ‘puts us on a path to war’. Adds Fred Kaplan, writing in Slate, ‘and it’s fair to say [sure it is, Fred] that President Donald Trump wants us on that path’. In short, ‘the time to panic is now’. Argh!!!

Hysteria has its pleasures.  But if we step outside the echo chamber of this feverish anti-Trump mad house, we soon discover that John Bolton is not the reincarnation of Genghis Khan. On the contrary, he is an informed and thoughtful commentator on international affairs. The over-caffeinated chihuahuas yapping at his heels are in a panic because he doesn’t like the ‘deal’ (what some of us would describe as the craven capitulation) that Barack Obama made with Iran over its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Obama shovelled more than a billion dollars in cash to the Mullahs and said in effect ‘pretty please do not make any nuclear bombs’. The New York Times, in one of its excoriations of John Bolton, wrote that ‘The Iran deal has substantially halted the nuclear program and needs to be maintained’. But anyone not blinded by ideology knows that the third thing the Iranian leaders do each morning, after proclaiming ‘Death to Israel’ and ‘Death to America’, is to chivvy their scientists to get on with their work making a bomb with which to obliterate the Zionist entity and threaten the Great Satan.  

Something similar can be said about North Korea. Bolton’s critics chatter like terrified, dyspeptic starlings because he has suggested that Kim Jong Un’s deployment of nuclear weapons presents an existential threat that may have to be met by a preemptive military strike. But does any thinking person doubt this? Moreover, as Rocket Man prepares for his meeting with President Trump, the presence of John Bolton in the American entourage should have a clarifying effect on the tubby tyrant.

But the revulsion on the Left against John Bolton is occasioned by much more than his robust positions on Iran and North Korea...

See also: 

John Bolton Has His Chance to Kill the Iran Deal Trump Tried to Fix

Monday, March 12, 2018


Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, who heads up the most corrupt, incompetent government in the history of her province, and which has run up the world's largest sub-national debt, says "Government exists to do the things we can’t do on our own ."

Here are some examples of things her government does that you can't do on your own.

Can you think of some more?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Objectivity Has a Poor Reputation in the Humanities, and Universities are Paying for it

...Equity studies and related fields are built on studying inequality (mostly based on group identity) and its effects on people. These fields have a symbiotic relationship with progressive activists in order to further the stated goal of equality, just as the field of chemistry has a symbiotic relationship with the chemical industry. Fifty years ago, when the civil rights act was only 4 years old and Canada still had an unwritten tradition of discouraging immigration from anywhere but Europe, there certainly was a pervasive system of inequality that would impede the success of certain groups of people. In a climate like that, there absolutely is a lot of content to for equity studies to produce. Because its necessity, competent individuals pursuing higher education would have been willing to study in this field.

Fast forward 40 years, things look a lot different. There are laws in place to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, disability, and sexual orientation. There are also hate crime laws that add additional penalty for crimes existing crimes motivated by bigotry. While still not perfect, all available metrics are trending in the direction of equality (between gender, race, and sexuality). When this inevitably happens, do the academics in equity studies just pack it up and go home? Of course not, this is their livelihood and they need to stay relevant. And if relevance is the necessity, the goal is to have a real impact.

Equity studies is indisputably less important than it was at its inception and incoming students recognize this. The other thing incoming students recognize is that a degree in equity studies and related fields are among the least marketable bachelor degrees one can hold, at a time where a high paying 9-5 career is harder to get without any technical skills. So, what does a competent student with a notion of personal responsibility do? They study something else. This leaves a field desperately in need of a rebranding and a prospect pool that is declining in quality...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

For eerie, fun drinks on Toronto's Queen Street West, it's Hocus Pocus

Queen Street West in Toronto is one of those destination spots where new businesses frequently appear and disappear. That's the economics of retail and sales rather than magic, however a new, very intriguing place on Queen West materialized recently and magic does play a big role in it.

I happened to stumble upon it a couple of weeks ago, and almost passed by it entirely until something on the chalkboard placard outside the Hocus Pocus Witchery (at 592 Queen West) caught my eye. With its storefront appearance, looking in from the street, the place appeared to be a sort of occult shop, selling Wiccan and magic paraphernalia. It's something I found interesting from an academic perspective when I wrote a screenplay once dealing with some of that subject matter, but that was a while back. So I only really qualsi took in the place as I was passing by until I almost tripped over their chalkboard, on which was written, 'Come and check out our smoking cocktails.'

While communing with Beelzebub wasn't on the forefront of my mind, I was indeed seeking out a place to get a drink. The prospect of booze in the witchcraft store was interesting enough to explore, so I got a notion to get a potion, so to speak.

There is indeed a bar at the Hocus Pocus Witchery, and a few tables, as well as plenty of items for sale, from magic potion ingredients to statues of ancient Egyptian deities to a wide assortment of Tarot decks to  $1000 'Love Wands" which I can only assume is something the parents of rich kids at Hogwarts would buy for their forlorn children. However, from my perspective, they had an impressive drinks menu, and the "smoking cocktail" description was not a metaphor.

There are a number of drinks at Hocus Pocus Wichery which literally smoke and bubble, and create an eerie graveyard mist which flows over the rims of the myriad of unusual receptacles that contain the concoctions. The drinks are delicious and quite reasonably priced for such elaborate recipes and presentation.  

Despite the ominous theme, the staff are rather friendly. Although to a point. I have some vague recollection of the suggestion that I could be turned into a newt if I didn't behave myself. Although that could just be part of a hallucination from the wormwood in the genuine French Absinthe contained in one of the beverages, the preparation for which is a ritual in itself.

My only complaint about the Hocus Pocus Witchery is that they close rather early for a bar on weekdays, at 9 pm, but they are open late on Friday and Saturday nights, and on the late closings, they frequently have entertainment. The last of which I saw was a burlesque dancer named Pastel Supernova (although I strongly suspect that is not the name she was born with) whose performance somewhat evoked the dance Salma Hayek did in From Dusk Till Dawn, minus the boa constrictor.

Considering how much fun I had there, I hope the Hocus Pocus Witchery doesn't vanish anytime soon.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Canadian Universities, where supporting students' fragile emotions is more important than teaching them

The free-speech wars have broken out again. The battlefield this time is the little campus of Acadia University, located in bucolic Wolfville, N.S. The villain of the piece is Rick Mehta, an associate professor of psychology who's been teaching there for 14 years. Critics call him a free-speech absolutist whose outrageous views are endangering the safety and security of his students. He calls himself an independent thinker who offers different perspectives to challenge the prevailing narrative. This week, we learned that the campus administration has launched a formal investigation to determine just how dangerous he is. A letter he received from Heather Hemming, the vice-president of academic, said that the administration had received too many complaints to ignore. "The university has a legal responsibility to provide an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment and personal harassment," it said.

We've been down this road before. You'd think that universities have learned a thing or two from the Jordan Peterson debacle. The University of Toronto's efforts to stifle Prof. Peterson backfired badly by helping to turn him into the Western world's foremost martyr to free speech. He's a rock star. Sensibly, the university is now leaving him alone.

Prof. Mehta is an unabashed Peterson fan. He, too, likes to whack away at current campus pieties. He has also said that Indigenous policies have fostered a victim mentality, and that he, personally, does not feel guilty for the wrongs done to historic populations before he was alive. (As an immigrant of East Indian descent, he can hardly be accused of white privilege, either.) The bill of indictment also includes statements he has made on social media, and sometimes in the classroom, about men and women and the fact that their career interests tend to differ. He thinks that the pay gap is largely fictional, that immigration policy needs vigorous debate and that introductory psych courses (such as the one he teaches) largely ignore the role of intellectual ability in determining social outcomes. In the real world, none of these views are particularly radical, and some are empirically correct. But in the hothouse world of today's universities, they are automatically racist, sexist and hateful...

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Matthew Lau :How greedy McDonald’s became the most effective poverty-fighter in the country

...Poor people (and not-so-poor people) are enriched by McDonald’s offerings of cheap and filling food. The popular economics blog Freakonomics has suggested McDonald’s McDouble burger could be “the cheapest, most nutritious, and bountiful food that has ever existed in human history.” With two beef patties, pickles, and onions, McDoubles offer — for just a couple of bucks — half the daily recommended serving of protein, seven per cent of daily recommended fibre, and 20 per cent of your daily calcium and iron.

But it’s not through cheap food that McDonald’s helps those in need. Visit an outlet in any major city’s downtown and you’ll see, essentially, a temporary shelter for struggling people who badly need a rest, some warmth, or just a bathroom. As a report in U.K.’s left-wing Guardian described a couple years ago, “for many of the poorest, for the homeless, and for people caught in an addiction, McDonald’s are an integral part of their lives.” The washrooms are clean, there is social interaction, McDonald’s restaurants are often safer than homeless shelters, and many locations are open 24 hours.

And many kids get their first job working at McDonald’s, developing work habits and customer-service skills that qualify them for higher-paying jobs down the road. When it comes to getting young Canadians onto the first rung of the economic ladder, McDonald’s has outdone every anti-poverty organization in the country...