Monday, March 31, 2008

UAV Predator Pilots and Extended Service, Mistakes are Bound to Happen

In a recent article on titled USAF: Extended Duty Taking Toll on UAV Pilots the increased amount of UAVs being used in the Middle East has created problems with exhaustion of the pilots who control these unmanned vehicles.

The USAF has been ordered to deploy all their Predator UAVs to Iraq, in a effort to end the conflict, as the article states. The article continues:

"While the Predator itself is immune to the effects of extended deployments and long hours, the crews guiding and servicing the aircraft aren't"

This poses a huge problem. Although most Predator missions are only used for surveillance or scouting, there are some "armed" Predator missions. This is where fatigue and exhaustion really become problematic. When a pilots mission is the strategically attack a specific house, in a specific town, within an area that contains many houses that may look similar or are closely built together, there is no room for error. This "surge" in the amount of UAVs used, and the increased number of hours pilots have to operate their vehicles promotes cause for alarm. What if a pilot becomes tired behind the command of a UAV and blows up a hospital? school? apartment building? That could be catastrophic for not only public opinion for the US presence in the Middle East, and Iraq, but also may promote retaliation attacks (Although, I do not condone the US presence in Iraq or Afghanistan in any respect).

Although UAVs may be unmanned, and safer than sending in manned fighter jets, or their equivalent, there is a greater risk of error. Like I have already stated, fatigue is the greatest enemy of the UAV pilot, who is not actually directly involved in the action, and therefore is not going to have his adrenaline pumping as much as a fighter jet pilot. This poses the problem of detachment from the actual events that are unfolding, and the possibility of attention being diverted from the goal.

I am all behind using UAVs to remove the possibility of more soldier casualties from war, but I think there is an easier solution. It involves removing ALL casualty possiblities from the war, by sending the soldiers home!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Uncooperative Blogger's Anti-Muslim Rant, Promoting 'Witch Hunt'

The Uncooperative Blogger-Independent Conservative Politics, Opinion and Podcasts on U.S. News and World News

The Uncooperative Blogger, recently posted a criticism of the The Armchair Critic's post concerning the recent blog article titled "List of Things That Offend Muslims". The Uncooperative Blogger's post states:

"The growing insanity over Geert Wilder's movie Fitna Shows us once again that Islam is not a tolerant religion"

"Now, this ill informed idiot at The Armchair Critic is doing the same thing to Kevin Weakley of The Amboy Times, for Posting his "List of Things That Offend Muslims.""

"I applaud Weakly[author of the 'List of Things That Offend Muslims'] for reporting THE TRUTH about the over the top hate mongering and complete intolerance, that too many Muslims engage in all too frequently, and to call them on it."

Now I don't agree with The Armchair Critic's comments about how the author of the 'List' should be shot, but he has a point about how ludicrous the list is. I mean the Islamic religion may be against certain things (ie: music), but aren't all religions, in essence against something? Couldn't we make a list about Catholics for instance (Although, I bet you as many, or more people would have a problem with that list too)? The Uncooperative Blogger does not help the situation by stating how intolerant Islam is. In his statement he seems to be hinting that there is a tolerant religion out there somewhere in our world. But, is there really? Can you really name a religion that accepts every facet of every society? All religions are based on accepted values, and unaccepted values. If you try to single out Islam as an intolerant religion, it is impossible because no religion is tolerant.

The Uncooperative Blogger states that the 'List' speaks the truth about the "over the top hate mongering" and "complete intolerance, that too many Muslims engage in all too frequently." These acquisitions are blanket statements. I mean, can you really state that ALL Muslims are extremists, and that EVERYONE who follows Islam believes/acts this way? I don't think you can. There are tons of extremist groups in other religions that act the same way (And in no way do I condone Islamic-extremist activities). For instance highly polarized religious groups such as (I refuse to post a direct link to their site, because I 100% disagree with their ideology) promote hatred and intolerance on a grand scale. Why is it that Muslims are the only group that seems to garner this label as "hate mongering" and "complete intolerance??"

Personally, I believe that people have become too caught up in propaganda and fear regarding the 'War on Terror.' The United States and other Western countries have become too focused on promoting the idea that all terrorism comes from Muslim extremists, that people have come to label ALL Muslims in those terms. It is people like the Uncooperative Blogger that would promote witch hunts like those that were carried out in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is people like the Uncooperative Blogger that promote the same ideas that were present during the Cold War when McCarthyism took over the United States (Everyone was a communist back then, if you were different).

Like I have stated, if the list had been entitled 'List of Things That Offend Christians,' there would be as much, or more, backlash against the author as there has been for the 'List of Things That Offend Muslims.' You cannot attack a religion just because it is not tolerant of the same values that we hold in the Western world. Different is not wrong, it is just different. When people stop thinking that their way is the best way, and are able to see from a different perspective, then and only then will we be able to disregard hatred such as this.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Turn Off the Lights, Or Are You Afraid of the Dark or Something?

I was surfing the net earlier and went to search something up on Google (I think it was 'breastenglargementhypnosis') and noticed that the entire Google page was black! So I checked out a little link below the search box, and found out that TODAY is Earth Hour Day!

Today for one hour people all across North America will be turning their lights off for one hour. Apparently doing this saves a LOT of energy. But, I urge everyone to participate, I mean really.... what is the big deal of not having the lights on for ONE hour? It's really not that long. You could make shadow puppets with a flashlight, you could play hide-and-seek with your friends, contemplate the meaning of life, read a book (if you have a booklight), sleep, and other cool adult things!

I think it is a really good cause, and everyone should get invovled... seriously! It's not that hard, you can even use your pinky to switch off the lights if you want... although, I guess you might have to use your index finger to turn off your computer (that may be too strenuous). But in all seirousness, Earth Day - a good cause, easy to do, and saves energy - What more could you ask for!

PS- I know you might not be able to peel yourself away from this blog, but it will be okay... after the hour, I'm pretty sure it will be still be here.

US Occupation of Iraq: It Wasn't Always About the Iraqi People?

On Friday President Bush spoke about the situation in Iraq.The President said that the US has made much progress over the past year and their 'surge' had been very successful. He went on to later state that:

"it was only five years ago that Iraq was one of the most brutal dictatorships on Earth - a totalitarian nightmare where any election was a sham, and dissenters often found themselves buried in mass graves"

He continues his praise of the 'free' Iraq when he describes the initiative of the Iraqi people by stating:

"They went on to choose an interim government, and to ratify the most democratic constitution in the Arab world"

This may all be true, but was the Iraq of 2003 lit up like a Christmas tree on the radar screen of the US? Personally the invasion has been a total flop, in its initial justifications, loss of life, loss of money, etc. etc. And what about the Iraqi people? Doesn't seem like we ever hear from the actual PEOPLE the US is supposed to be helping. We always hear from government officials, progress reports from the military, but never from the people whose lives this injection of democracy was supposed to help! The Western news reporters have shied away from depicting the point of view of the Iraqis.

His last comment was that:

"This dramatic shift in policy had two primary goals. The first was to improve security conditions. So I ordered 30,000 additional soldiers and Marines into Iraq, and gave them a new mission, to focus on protecting the Iraqi people, and to hold the gains that had been made"

He gave them a NEW mission? If the whole argument of being in Iraq was to create a 'democracy' and reshape the country FOR the Iraq people, shouldn't the protection of the Iraqi people been a top priority! Now, I am not condoning the US presence in Iraq, but when they had already invaded and taken control over Iraq, the top priority should have been civilian protection. Their "War on Terror" is not very effective if they aren't protecting the people that terrorism affects the most.

I think the US should just leave Iraq to the Iraqis. It is not like they are an incompetent people, they know how to run their own affairs. The US presence in Iraq reminds me of when the British occupied Egypt. The British told the Egyptians that they would only be occupied for a short while, and then the British would leave their country. Days turned into months, and months into days, but the British still kept a sizeable presence in Egypt. From 1883 until the end of World War II, Britian occupied Egypt, while the Egyptian people sought liberation. I feel that a similar situation is occurring in Iraq. It seems that Western cultures do not want to see that Middle Eastern societies, or Eastern cultures are capable of rationality, or looking after their own interests. The US does not have to hold Iraq's hand, and guide it as closely as toddler because Iraq is fully capable of walking, even running, on its own.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

US presence in Iraq: Like the Olympics?

My first post in a while! (College work is getting the best of me.) But, that is besides the point.

Recently I was reading the New York Times and came across this article:
Iraq, $5000 a Second? written by Nicholas Kristof.

At one part in the article, Kristof quotes Nobel Prize Winning Economist, Joseph Stiglitz and he states that the Iraq War most definately had a hand in the increased oil prices and the economic downturn. He also says,

Moreover, money spent on Iraq did not stimulate the economy as much as the same dollars spent at home would have done. To cover up these weaknesses in the American economy, the Fed let forth a flood of liquidity; that, together with lax regulations, led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom.

I tend to agree with Stiglitz, while Robert Hormats, Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs International disagrees with the connection. He says that the money could have been used to elevate the problems in the economy, but that they were not directly linked. This seems proposterous to me!

War and economic downturns seem to go hand in hand. The amount spent on the Iraq War is staggering, topping off at over 500 billion dollars! Does Hormats not remember what happened after World War I? The fact that only shortly after World War I, there was a depression in the economy as many nations were in enormous amounts of debt. It seems rather narrow minded to state that the Iraq War has NOTHING to do with the present situation in the United States now.

Kristof does make a good point near the end of his article when he states that all the money going towards the Iraq War, could be put towards something constructive such as improving healthcare, curing Malaria, etc. etc. The Iraq War spending is fairly useless. The American Government might as well burn $5000 dollars a second! They have made no headway in Iraq, and continue to force the subject. It is almost like they cannot see the forest through the trees.

The last comment that Kristof makes is to remark that the US has started borrowing. That is, many foreign countries hold some part of the cost of the war being waged. This is exactly what Britain had to do in World War II, when it took loans from the United States. Now the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, as the US has become the borrower not the lender.

Until the US government can see past their 'so called' quest to rid this world of terrorism, and focus on the people of their country, the country will continue to faill into the 'black hole' that has become the Iraq War. The Iraq situation is not like the Olympics where you spend a lot of money, and it brings tourism, and attention to your 'city.' There is no justification for the Iraq War, and it is not portraying the United States in a positive way. I say that the United States should stop waging war on their facade of 'creating security,' and focus on more important things like Kristof points out. If they can't even do that, then why not focus on the Olympics, it is one of the only things that the Americans succeed at when they enter it (unlike Iraq and Afghanistan. That is not to say that they were justified to wage war in these areas).

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Cost of Warfare is Too Great (in money and lives)

I recently added the 'Cost of War' counter provided by National Priorities: The Cost of War. This counter shows how much money is going towards the funding of the war in Iraq. When you glance at the counter, you notice that the total is already in the trillions of dollars range! You also notice that the counter increases by a thousand dollars in less than a second. On the actual site, they tell you that it costs United States taxpayers about $341 million a day to wage war in Iraq!

It may be hard to comprehend how much money is actually going into the Iraq war, but if you look at how much the United States spent in World War II, you come to grips with it rather quickly. Throughout the whole World War II campaign, the United States spent $341 billion, and all of the allied powers spent $1 trillion dollars. In the recent Iraq war, the US has already spent MORE than $500 billion! I know that inflation has to be factored in for the cost that was spent back in the middle of the twentieth century versus now, but it is still rather amazing that this much money is being thrown into the war effort!

Not only is the cost, in monetary value quite appalling, but soldiers are dying in Iraq, and Iraqi citizens are dying as well. There does not seem to be an end in sight to the war, and yet soldiers are continually subjected to this more than hostile environment. BUT, as I have said, not only are soldiers dying, but Iraqi people are dying as well! We have to think about the lives the soldiers, but, we must also think about the effect this incursion has had on the people of Iraq. Terrorist activities have increased in Iraq since the United States 'freed the Iraqi people' from Saddam Hussein.

I have also heard rumours that the US government or at least President Bush would like to take action against Iran if they become a 'threat.' I seems as if they aren't learning their lessons from Iraq, and to quote a saying that Bush once used to talk about Saddam Hussein, "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me" (the only difference in my quote and President Bush's is that I stated it correctly).

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Right Decision: Ryerson Student Spared Expulsion

Recently a student from Ryerson University Canada was faced with the possibility of expulsion over a Facebook group concerned with a first year chemistry course.

( Story shown at: )

The student Chris Avenir had been an administrator of the Facebook group and the group members had used the group to share answers to assignment questions, and talk about the Chemistry course that Avenir was enrolled in. All the trouble started when the professor teaching the course found the group and brought it to the attention of the university. Avenir was given an F in the chemistry course, and faced being expelled from the university.

The problem here is fairly blatant, and two-fold. Avenir was attacked by the university because he was the administrator, but did not post any of the 'answers' to assignments from the chemistry course. Secondly, Facebook is a social networking site, and if the students didn't socialize on Facebook, they probably would have done so in study groups. Avenir could not control what other people posted on the site, just as he wouldn't have been able to stop someone from announcing the answers if they meet in a study group.

The reaction to the Facebook group by the university is very proposterous. If the professor didn't want people to work together than he shouldn't have given out a 'take home' assignment. Instead the assignment should have been issued as an in-class assignment or quiz.

It is good that Avenir is not being expelled for his creation of a Facebook group, and it shows how weak Ryerson's case against him really was. Avenir was only acting on his right of free speech, he created a group but didn't specifically state that it was for "sharing answers for chemistry assignments, that we are supposed to complete on our own." He just created a group, people joined, and they posted what they wanted. Isn't that free speech? And I'm fairly sure there is no law against free speech is there (although I have been stuck in the library studying for the past few days, I could be out of touch with reality)? A person could have announced the answers to the chemistry assignment over a megaphone on university property, and if Avenir was the owner of the megaphone, would be disciplined??? Probably not, it would be the person that announced the answers!

So, this seems like a small win for the lowly university student. Although, Avenir has to take a course on "academic integrity" and have a "disciplinary notice placed on his transcript." I personally do not think that his punishments were necessary, but I guess Ryerson had to keep up their image of a university strongly against 'supposed' academic dishonesty.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Salim Mansur on Multiculturalism (or lack there of)

Salim Mansur on multiculturalism

I just read this blog entry on Dr Roy's Thoughts Blog and was shocked to hear that Salim Mansur would want us to dispose of our mulitculturalism! This seems like a step in the wrong direction. How are we going to be able to understand other cultures if we are not exposed to them? Do we really want to turn into a country that is based on the perception that our own culture is the epitome of the 'best' culture. That seems a little pompous to disregard all 'non-western' cultures as below our own.

If we are ever to make this world a better place to live in, knowledge of each other (and when I say 'each other,' I mean every culture, society, civilization in the world) is the greatest element we can obtain. For instance, if you were researching 'how people used shoes,' would you just focus on North American shoes? I bet you wouldn't, because you would be leaving out a wide spectrum of shoes that people use from all over the world.

Do we really want to force people to accept our culture even when they do not want to? Are we teaching people that is wrong to be different? That everyone should be similar, and no one can be unique. That is what it seems like to me, and for me that is VERY wrong. Everyone has the right to think differently, act differently, and have their own 'unique' culture.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Liability (Update)

While President Bush has continued to make it legal to use waterboarding in CIA interrogations, the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping bill has been rejected (

This is definately a step in the right direction, as the possibility of the NSA being able to eavesdrop on your communications without a warrant is quite proposterous! Like I have said, all these agencies and groups that 'think' they are not accountable to anyone need to take a step back and look towards the public. The very people they want to 'spy' on are the people that make them powerful in the first place. By ignoring laws, these groups are, in essence, going against the framework of their society. Since society has formed these laws, and society is comprised of the people that make up a particular society, to ignore these rules/laws is blasphemous. If you really look at it, the NSA is not above society, it is a construct contained within its definition because it is supposed to cater to the people (not the other way around). So, hopefully this will cause a set back to the influence of this McCarthyism-Paranoia that has taken a stranglehold on the United States.

The 'Other'

Did you ever notice that we humans tend to segregate ourselves from people that are different than us? Like for instance people from the United States tend to always portray Canadians as people that always end their sentences with 'eh,' only live in cold climates, are knieve, poor, and (sometimes.. although only in extreme cases) reside in igloos!

This separation that humans impose within their own species is very peculiar. We tend to associate with what is similar to ourselves, and that is how we define ourselves. What makes you American, for instance? The answer is usually, "my patriotism, my nationalistic spirit for my country, my love for freedom, etc. etc." BUT, in reality that is not what defines what an American is, because someone from Turkey could feel the same way about their country. The answer is, an American is defined by what is not American. More precisely, we tend to define ourselves by what we deem to be very unlike ourselves. An American is not a Canadian, is not an African, is not a Colombian, is not British, is not Norwegian, and so forth.

Human society has separated itself into groups of 'the Other.' We are more adept at spotting our differences than seeing our similarities. For instance, a man by the name of Edward Said wrote a book called Orientalism. This book focussed on, what he saw, as a Westernized perspective dominating scholarly work in fields such as anthropology, history, etc. He proposed that since most of the scholarly work on places other than the Western World (Europe, and North America) was quite small, that there was a bias. People only saw the 'Orient' or Eastern World as the 'Other.' More specifically, they posited that the Western world was greater and more influential than the Eastern World (Africa, Asia, South America, etc.). This created a divide between the two Worlds, and so Western scholarlship tended to view Oriental (as Said uses) societies as inferior and primative, as compared to Western civilizations.

This separation of humanity into two camps is still rather absurb, once you think about it. Also, with the idea that the Western World is better, and more sophisticated than the Eastern World, the divide becomes even less substantiated. For example, in our age (2008), do you know what the biggest airline in the world is? Most people from North America might saw American Airlines, or US Airlines. BUT, an airline company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), called Air Emirates is actually the biggest airline company in the world. Another fun fact, what would say is the most technologically advanced country? Probably the United States, right? Well you would be wrong, because it is actually South Korea. It has the highest national IQ of any country in the world, and 95% of all people in South Korea are connected to Broadband internet (stats found on . The US on the other side of the coin, has 83% of the population connected to Broadband internet (stats found on

So if you really think about it, are Americans really different from Chinese? or Koreans? Americans, for instance, may not have the same customs, or social practices, or look exactly the same, but underneath it all we still strive for the same basic things: food, shelter, security, acceptance, etc. ALSO, are we (Western civilizations) any better than other civilizations? I would venture that we are not. Just because we may have different customs, as I pointed out earlier, doesn't make one better than the other. We are all a part of this crazy ecosystem we like to call Earth, and I think it is about time that we found a way to coincide with each other without divisions.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Just for a 'fun aside' I'd like to post a screen shot of this blog I found while searching on (

Here's the interesting part... the Blog has (nearly, but not quite) the same name as mine! The Doppelganger-named Blog is called 'DC Digressions' while mine is called 'DC's Digression.'

The 'other' DC site is kind of like the opposite of mine, because mine is dark and her's is light. We have totally different content, but that doesn't make mine better (or worse) than her's. I like to think of our two blogs as taking residence at two ends of the blog spectrum.

The funny part is that the 'DC' part of my blog name comes from my name, while her 'DC' comes from where she is writing from (Washington, D.C.). Kind of funny how these things work out, and who would have thought that so many variables would come together to allow this coincidence to occur.

  1. We both used 'DC,' although meaning different things, inevitably they were chosen.
  2. We both used 'Digression' in the name of our blogs acting as a noun/verb (or at least in my case it does, I cannot speak for my fellow blogger)
  3. The fact that I did not even know about her blog before I started my own.
  4. The fact that I probably would not even KNOW about her blog if I had not searched for 'DC's Digression' on Blogsearch! (and I was doing this to see if my blog had been added to the search engines yet)

Through the coming together of all these random occurrences , we both came up with near (like 98%) near identical names for our blogs. It's really crazy if you think about all the elements that had to fall into place for this occur. But I am rambling... soooo I digress, my next posting will be a little more back to the usual 'criticism!'

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


"A country cannot subsist well without liberty, nor liberty without virtue."

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is quoted as saying this in A Dictionary of Thoughts: Being a Cyclopedia of Laconic Quotations from the Best Authors of the World, Both Ancient and Modern. Although Rousseau stated this a very long time ago, about 100 years ago to be exact, it still holds a lot of weight today.

For instance, because some countries/people have become so powerful they have no one to answer. That is, they have no liability to act in a certain manner which benefits everyone, but only act to benefit the select few. "A country cannot subsist well without liberty," is what Rousseau asserts but it seems that President George W. Bush is doing the exact opposite. With his recent veto vote against making waterboarding illegal: (
he has done exactly what Rousseau warns against.

The major problem is that all the power rests with the president. If he doesn't like a bill that has been passed through all other facets of the government he can just veto it! This means that he liable to nobody. Although, some might say that he is still liable to the people of the United States, because they will not support him if he vetoes every bill. BUT, is this really a threat that Bush cares about? Recently his popularity polls have been the lowest ever, and overall his popularity has been the lowest of any United States President EVER. So what does he have to fear? He can't smear his image any more that what it already is, and he was even re-elected when the people knew what he was like.

To have a 'fair' president or leader, one needs to be liable to someone. Even the smallest hint that a person's actions will have some consequence is enough to create a failsafe to the problems that the United States has with President Bush. When someone is at the top of the 'foodchain,' so to speak, it is harder for them to assess what their actions mean to everyone below.

The problems are not just with the United States. Many other countries that are under the rule of totalitarian leaders or dictators face similar problems. States such as these create countries where the citizens cannot even obtain the simpliest rights, or liberty. Remember that we should always be critical of the people that hold the highest stations in our society. Constructive feedback is always important with regards to promoting discussion and debate. Both, discussion and debate, are the backbone to voicing opinions, and holding people liable for their actions.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

University/College ...But I Digress

'Well another day, another dollar' (that's what I would be saying if I wasn't an university student). Seems like these days it is harder and harder for the university student to get his/her foot in the door of the 'real world' (unless that person is a business graduate or an engineering graduate).

Presently I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree, and there aren't many opportunities awaiting if I choose to try and find a job. (I definately do not have any companies knocking on my door, offering me salaries with benefits after a year, and a raise after a probationary period.. but I digress) It seems that society has favored the business and technology sectors. That is, university/college degrees that you can obtain (such as a business degree, or engineering degree) mean a lot more to our world than say a history degree does, or an english degree.

Have we become too caught up in our modernization of the world that we no longer value the ability to think abstractly? I know plenty of people that are engineers, and they can quickly solve the Hamilton-Jacobi Equation (
BUT they cannot spell for their lives, or interpret a passage written by William Shakespeare! These notions of abstract thinking, as I have said, seem to have become 'passe.' BUT since they are not the 'in' thing, does it mean that they should be tossed into the dust-bin of society?

Personally, I don't think so! Lots of people I have talked to see no point to doing a degree in the Humanities because you cannot get a job with a basic Bachelor's Degree. To get a job you would have to at least earn a Master's Degree, to even have a chance of being hired. BUT, if you are an engineer, or a business student, for instance, all you need is a Bachelor's Degree and the world opens up like a book to you. I hate to be pessimisitc but it seems like society is still stuck in the scientific revolution, where the 'oooo' and 'ahhh' of science has become the sole focus of everyone. People see science and the 'certanities' it proposes as the only things that are concrete and thus are the only things that matter. This spells the end of abstract thought, as less and less is available for Humanities students.

However, I have to say that I am not against Science based degrees and business degrees because they are essential to society. Both have their benefits, such as helping to design new effective ways to harness solar energy, or help stabilize the economy, or run a company, but they are really BETTER than something based in abstractions? For instance, is Van Gogh better or worse than Albert Einstein? It's hard to compare the two isn't it! Van Gogh's paintings are inspirational and beautiful works of art. Einsteins theories were groundbreaking during their initial inception, and have influenced much of our modern day science. Both are great in their own regards, so wouldn't that make them equal?

All I am asking that society take a hard look at how it is created a divide between what is 'supposedly' based in fact, and what is not. Is a mathematical problem with a definate answer (2+2 = 4, for example) any better than a musical composition? I will let you be the judge of that....