Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Fruitcake Anyone?

Okay, it's time for me to step up to the plate and defend an easy target that keeps getting bashed unjustly at this time of year. Yes, I'm talking about Christmas Fruitcake. Fruitcake is the butt of more jokes at this time of year than tofu. I don't know whose Christmas Cake all these complaining people are eating, but the Missus makes a damn fine fruitcake and I'm pretty sure she hasn't got some secret that nobody else is in on. I say, lay off the fruitcake.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Crispy or Original Recipe?

Okay, time for a real controversy. Enough of this lightweight stuff. An alert reader, Lisa, has identified an alarming new product. Alarming because it is sure to lead to much marital strife. She is concerned that her husband actually approves of the latest in brownie pans. See it here:


Lisa says:

"I was horrified. What a wretched contraption. Everyone knows that the lovely, soft, gooey inside pieces are where it's at. Who wants a hard crispy overcooked outside edge? That's the bottom of the barrel (or the sides, as the case may be). If there was an invention that rendered all bread slices as crusts, who would want such a thing? Maybe 1% of the population? The crazy 1%, that is."

I leave this one open for discussion.

Speaking of crispy overcooked edges, one of my favourite such stories is of a teacher I worked with who decided to be really keen and bake some bread with his elementary class. Well, teaching in elementary can really demand your full attention and sometimes you can forget about things such as the bread you put in the oven awhile back. He remembered it all right when the fire alarm went off and the school was evacuated. Now that was some hard crispy bread.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How Do You Know?

What do Swine Flu shots, global warming, and 9-11 have in common? You can find plenty of people who fall passionately on either side of the great divide that each issue has. And that's annoying. How does Joe Regular Guy know the truth when everyone on both sides claims to be telling the truth and says everyone on the other side is lying.

I've been thinking about this lots lately, but it is my blog topic tonight because of a recent debate that hijacked my Facebook status update. Two friends, regular readers of the blog I might add, got into it over the flu shots. Both were able to send me links to strengthen their positions. The same happens if you talk about global warming. People I know and respect fall on both sides of the issue and can send me plenty of links. I'm drowning in links, but it doesn't bring me any closer to knowing what the truth is.

Perhaps there is a way to know which links to believe and which ones are bogus, but it is not something that Joe Regular Guy can figure out, so these debates must be getting mired in misinformation. We've got more access to information than ever before, but we can't know what's good information and what isn't. So until someone comes up with a better way here is how I decide what's what. Not based on the truth, since who knows what that is, but on the probabilities of the truth. And I'm open to changing my mind on any of these if someone can present a convincing argument (and by that I most definitely don't mean a link to someone's expert opinion on what the truth is) that I've got the probabilities wrong. It is quite likely I could end up being wrong on all three of these issues, and that's what's so damn annoying.

Let's start with the Swine Flu shots. Why would the people who are saying to get a shot be saying so if it wasn't safe? There are two reasons I can think of. To make money for the company that makes the shots or because if lots of people get the shots the benefits to all are greater than the risks to the individual. It seems incredibly unlikely that all the shot advocates are in the drug company's pocket so I'll rule that out. If it's the latter then I don't feel too bad getting a shot because I'm a team player and I'll take one for the team. More likely it seems to me that the shot advocates are telling us to get a shot because it is good for us both as individuals and a society to be inoculated against the flu. It makes the most sense. And the kicker is that the Calgary Flames were first in line to get the shots. Why would an NHL team risk their high priced talent on something that is as risky as the anti-shot people would have you believe. It doesn't make sense. I'm trusting the Flames on this one, so I got my shot.
Yeah! We got our shots and now we're all going to die!

Next up, global warming. Global warming advocates have made a pretty convincing argument, but they could be wrong. What I find strange is that the people saying they are wrong seem to be in fields other than climatology. So the experts on climate are pretty much in agreement, but it is others that say they are wrong. That tips the scales in favour of global warming being a real problem, but it does not mean the naysayers are wrong. I am sure at some point in history all the experts in a certain field believed one thing and were proven wrong by others who weren't in the field, but it would seem to be less likely than the experts being correct.

Another point is that although naysayers could be right, if the naysayers are wrong and we continue to do nothing about the amount of CO2 we're pumping into the atmosphere then we're really going to have a big problem. The costs of doing something don't seem to be that great when compared to risk of doing nothing. Not only that, but what is the motivation for these climate experts to be telling us this if it isn't the truth? I can't see one. On the other hand there is plenty of motivation for the climate change skeptics. Who wants to risk their high standard of living by maybe having to pay more carbon tax? So this one breaks down for me as: experts with no apparent hidden agenda vs non-experts with plenty of possibilities of a hidden agenda. Put me down as in favour of starting to do something to reduce emissions.

Lastly lets look at the 9-11 thing. Was it an inside job? Again if you watch a YouTube video you can see some pretty convincing stuff. The question is, do I believe it is likely that a consipracy of that magnitude is possible. The answer is no, it does not seem likely that it could be pulled off without someone finding out. So for now I'm not buying it. Now if the Calgary Flames tell me that the U.S. government attacked it's own people then I'll have to rethink things.

Whew, I'm exhausted. Next post I'm going back to talking about tube socks or stir sticks.