Interesting times

For some reason, watching the action on the stock markets and so on this week reminds me of September 11, only in slow motion and without the dramatic visuals.  But it’s just as big, just as history-making, and perhaps even more of a disaster.

I actually took all my life savings and plunked them into GICs last December.  The mutal fund advisor thought I was crazy to do so, and showed me some Andex charts of stock performance historically and so forth.  I know how stocks have performed historically, which is why I wanted out.  If you think a big ole’ crash is coming along soon, you get out early and once the dust has settled you wait a while (a longer while than most people probably think) and pick up the bargains that remain for cheap.

I’ve been reading sites like Daily Reckoning and depression2.tv and other bear sites since about 2003 or so. Buffet warned back in 2002 of risky investments like derivatives being financial weapons of mass destruction.  I’ve also been reading up on highly leveraged hedge-funds, the commodities bubble and the reckless lending that’s taken place the better part of this decade.  I’ve been reading about the likelihood of a big meltdown for about five years and wondering if it was imminent for the past year and a half. I don’t blog on the subject much, but have spent a fair amount of time reading up on it.

And yet people still seem to be taken by surprise, or still try to insist that everything is just fine.

I wonder what impact all this will have on the US elections.  One thing that continues to baffle me about American politics is the prevalence among the electorate of the single issue voter. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read people’s comments on various blogs and news articles where they expressed dismay at what Bush has been doing, but still vote for him and his cronies because of their stance on abortion. Or on gay marriage.  Screw the economy, health care, the Iraq war, the national debt, crumbling inner cities and infrastructure, what matters most is whether or not two fags in Vermont can get hitched in front of a civil court judge.  I mean, where the f*ck are people’s priorities?!?

Okay, rant over.  If the US collapse was unable to take the rest of the world down with it I wouldn’t give a crap.  I wonder if the average voter understands how bad this really is, or if they’ve become so accustomed to the doomsaying headlines regarding ‘sub-prime’ and ‘credit crisis’ that they just tune it out. But Lehman isn’t only the largest bankruptcy in US history, it dwarfs the now-second largest Worldcom by a factor of 6 to 1. Even scarier is the increasingly likely prospect of AIG going bankrupt.

Still, I find the unfolding disaster fascinating.  It’s similar to what George Carlin said about coverage of natural disasters. Only there’s no sense of guilt because nobody’s actually dying.  Watching the tickers and the sell-off in the Asian markets last night wasn’t much different than watching the initial reports of an earthquake and wondering how big it will really turn out to be. Will they halt trading tomorrow?  How much more can the Fed pump in? Will AIG be bailed out after all, or will their collapse dwarf that of Lehman?  Who’s next?

“Private Equity” firms were the subject of all kinds of hype as they swallowed up companies through the middle part of the decade, but keep in mind that it was just the old-LBO or leveraged buyout trend that was big in the 80s. Will one of them be the next to blow up? Or perhaps some big hedge-fund bet the wrong way on commodities?  There’s still three trading days to go in this week – until the triple witching hour as they call it, so it should be interesting times.

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Small ‘e’ Environmentalist

I know several people who, when asked their political views, claim to be “small ‘c’ Conservatives”. They do so because they feel they are genuinely conservative in the sense that they adhere to somewhat traditional values or the status quo, but it can also mean they support a conservative fiscal policy for government – in the sense that spending is kept under control, taxes kept within reason and budgets are balanced. They call themselves thus primarily to distinguish themselves from the more reactionary ‘Conservatives’ – be they neo-Conservatives or plain old right-wing nuts. Most of the ones I know are generally ‘pro-choice’, in favour of rights for gays and so on, and are strong advocates of small government – not to the point of Libertarianism or anarchy – but not full of make-work projects for bureaucrats and their friends either. The term is also used by people who adhere to conservative views, but aren’t a member of the Conservative Party (or Republican Party in the US), mainly because they believe those parties have been hi-jacked by the more extremist elements with whom they don’t want to be associated.

I often feel the same way about Environmentalism. As a movement it seems to have largely been taken over by extremists, alarmists, opportunists and hypocrites. Some of the extremists seem to have either a bizarre, utopian anti-capitalist or anti-western agenda, others are plain old racists in disguise. Still others stand to make a killing through Carbon trading and government subsidies; concern over the environment may be merely a cynical cloak for otherwise unabashed greed.

It takes a fair sized ego (perhaps even some sort of Messianic Complex) to think one can ‘save the planet’. Unfortunately, what I find common is what PJ O’Rourke once noted: there are a lot of people who would do anything to “save the planet”, except take a science course. The end result is a lot of politicking, shoddy science, more taxes, more proposed regulation, intrusiveness, calls for McCarthy-style witch hunts and show trials, irrational hysteria, and worse.

Disagreeing with them about anything brings charges that one is ‘killing the planet’ or doesn’t care about the future, or is right wing or a redneck or brainwashed by big business. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many people who care deeply about the world, but are alarmed by all the alarmism.

There’s no denying the importance of clean air and drinking water. I’ve been to Southeast Asia and seen how polluted the water is, and how smoggy the air around Southern China is. I’ve been to Eastern Europe and seen the impact that decades of lax controls had there on all the beautiful old buildings. Heck, I’ve been to Sudbury several times in my life and can recall quite well when the surrounding landscape resembled the moon and the whole area stunk of sulphur. I don’t think companies should be allowed to pollute the air or waterways, particularly in areas where people live, if there are other options.

I’m all for alternative energy sources, so long as they are genuinely efficient, and so long as they are suitable replacements for current energy sources. I’m not entirely convinced that any of them are apart from nuclear. I don’t think the massive subsidies being provided by governments is the right way to go about it either. The reality is that access to cheap energy has played a main role in enabling a productive surplus in industrialized countries, and it is ironic that this very same productive surplus, which has enabled nearly everyone to have access to the internet, the opportunity for higher education and escape from a life of chronic drudgery, including all the neo-Luddites who seem to think everyone should go back to subsistence farming (which is probably not what the really want, but they refuse to understand that that is the logical consequence if some of the crazier proposals they insist on were actually implemented.)

I’m appalled by gratuitous waste (particularly over-packaging and cheap disposable crap) but it’s really not my business what other people do or buy. Heck, as far as enviro-cred goes, I’m up there: I don’t drive, I don’t use pesticides or herbicides, I shop locally and eat mostly in season fruit and veg (mostly because it’s cheaper and tastes better), shop second-hand for most clothes and household items, look for quality over quantity and generally avoid being wasteful. But again, what other people choose to do is simply not my business. I think it’s silly to spend more on a car than some people pay for a house, I’ve never understood the appeal of a debt-financed lifestyle to keep up with the Jones’s. Don’t get me wrong – I’m quite happy to make fun of them – but I don’t think it’s evil, or wrong, it’s their life after all, not mine.

I don’t think the world is likely to end any time soon, or that the projected catastrophes will turn to anything. The entire concept of some ‘tipping point’ happening when concentrations of atmospheric CO2 reach 500 ppm are utter nonsense, considering CO2 is logarithmic, and that most of the scarier projections (not predictions!) are based on taking the most extreme interpretation of dubious computer models, not actual experiments or observation (which often contradicts the models).

What I find quite often as well is that Environmentalists often claim to want to save the planet for future generations, but seem quite comfortable ignoring the suffering endured by the already living. I’ve never quite understood the rationale of being so concerned about people who may not ever exist at the expense of those who are currently alive, except that they are really only concerned about their own kids and grand kids and so on. Other examples are even less comprehensible to me. Greenpeace are quite happy to try to shut down a little mine in Rosia Montana, Romania (Gabriel Resources is hardly in the same league as Alcoa or BHP Billiton) but I don’t see them demanding a clean up of the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok.

At the rotten core of some Environmentalists’ arguments is the notion of overpopulation. PJ O’Rourke, in his excellent book All the Trouble in the World had a chapter on the argument of world population entitled: Plenty of Me, Way Too Much of You. It sums up the attitude perfectly, implied but rarely admitted.

In a nutshell, any claim of ‘over-population’ is basically saying that some other people don’t have a right to live. Almost like the jihadi suicide bombers, there seems to be a deep-rooted hatred of life, at least human life. Or perhaps it’s just a modern form of ancient tribalism, somehow wired tightly into allegedly civilized brains.

This isn’t the same fascination that most of us share at one time or another in the face of huge natural disasters. There are many people who believe that world resources aren’t just finite, but will run out soon, and they want to be sure there’s enough for them and their friends and family and descendants. Of course, other people and their descendants are a threat to that. The idea of killing them outright (like, say, what the Germans tried, resulting in the Holocaust) is seldom advanced, so there are vague claims that more should be done regarding contraception, that laws should be passed limiting the number of kids people have…

Especially in the Third World. Forgetting for a moment that countries with high birth rates also tend to have high infant mortality rates. Forget too the actual fact that around the world birth rates and population projections are actually falling, and that it is widely agreed that the best way to reduce birthrates anyway isn’t through forced contraception or ‘family planning’, but educating girls. A lot of supposedly ‘over-populated’ areas actually have lower population densities than most of Northern Europe, and since the highest birthrates are still in the Third World, most references to forced contraception and so on refer at least implicitly to them. Heaven forbid they might want to immigrate to places where fertility rates are below replacement levels. Indeed, claims of overpopulation being a threat to the environment is the last area where one can be a politically-correct racist.

In addition, I find that many Environmentalists have an ideological agenda that has little to do with the actual environment and more to do with either perpetual fund-raising or with vague, puritanical notions of what people ‘should’ be doing. Take for example, the annual seal hunt in Newfoundland every year, which brings out the pictures of white baby seals, and boatloads of protesters. This annual hunt brings in around $14million for Newfoundland according to Global Action Network. Considering the number of well-funded Environmentalist groups who use this seal hunt as an annual rallying point, collectively they could easily just buy out all the fishermen – pay them not to hunt the seals – and be done with it. Heck, Paul McCartney could easily afford to himself. But it’s very likely that the various groups probably rake in more funds via brochures with pictures of cute baby seals being massacred, that they probably depend on the seal hunt more than the Newfoundlanders do.

Another problem with this flood of hysteria and disinformation spread so widely is that genuine environmental threats are drowned out. How many people just chuck old batteries in the garbage, for instance? And in some instances, what people think is the cause of a problem might actual be something different. An example is the cause of toxic algae in lakes – a new study recently showed phosphates, not nitrates to be the culprit. The wrong information can lead to costly solutions that end up being completely ineffective at best. Even scarier is the seemingly instant acceptance of the proposal to dump lime into oceans to combat an alleged problem of ocean acidification by various bloggers and media outlets. If you’re up on your latest global warming climate change scares, this is one of the latest. Never mind that the feasibility study on which this hare-brained scheme is based was funded by Shell (as in the Big Oil company Royal Dutch/Shell Group). I find it rather odd that none of the major ‘Environmentalist’ blogs made much of an issue of that fact, nor that they have anything but a positive view on the proposed scale of meddling.. Even if ocean acidification is really a major concern and the cause of it really is atmospheric carbon-dioxide, doesn’t mean that this or any other large scale operation to counter-act it would be a terribly good idea.

My last peeve has to do with the overuse of either “they” or “we” when referring to what ‘should’ be done. It’s always their over-consumption, or we should be shopping less, never declarations in the first-person singular. As The Onion jokes, 98% of Americans think others should use public transit. I often wonder about the motives of many of these people too. I get the sense that it has little to do with the environment at all, and rather more to do with egotism – with displays of righteousness and (moral) superiority over others – and as means to exercise control over the behaviour of others – dictating what car they should drive (if at all), how much they should shop, what they should eat, how they should think and so on. Being sanctimonious is fun for lot of people and almost nothing allows for wider array of opportunities for it than being an Environmentalist. Worst are the jet-set environmentalists – the Al Gores and Laurie Davids who live in mansions and have a luxurious lifestyle that is well beyond reach of all but the super-rich, but travel the world in private jets lecturing others to save electricity or change their lightbulbs. It’s a little difficult to believe there’s any looming crisis if even the most ardent proponents aren’t willing to make even minor lifestyle changes.

I’ll end with a pertinent quote from HL Mencken:

The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.

Loony activist groups – just how low can they go?

I’ve tried to avoid reading anything about the horrific Greyhound bus death. I’ve tried to avoid finding out as few details as possible about it. I can’t imagine what the victims family and friends must be going through or what the victim must have gone through but I’m a strong believer that people inadvertently pushed into the media spotlight should really be left alone and at best anything from strangers should be supportive in order to avoid further victimizing those who are grieving.

Not one, but two notoriously attention-whoring groups have both decided to use this poor young man’s sensationalist death for their own ends.

I wouldn’t say that PeTA reached a new low in attempting to compare his death to the slaughter of animals. However they had already reached rock bottom with their “holocaust on a plate” ad campaign.

The other group, the notoriously anti-gay Westboro Baptists also decided to piggyback on this news item. The connection (if any) that they appear to have been trying to make was even more tenuous than that of PeTA, and their tactics possibly even more appalling. Somehow, in their sick, twisted little heads, this murder was apparently God’s Wrath against Canada’s tolerance of abortion and gays and have decided to picket the funeral.

Each group is exploiting a case that generated international headlines merely to attract attention to themselves and their causes. The problem is there are legitimate concerns for animal welfare, and there are legitimate reasons to oppose abortion, but sensationalist tactics by extremist groups do absolutely nothing to further any cause or stimulate rational debate, but only go to show thinking people what these groups really are.

Both groups at the core appear to be filled with people utterly devoid of humanity. You have to be a complete sociopath to be capable of the tactics that these two groups are using. To use some random, innocent man’s horrific death as a media platform is simply vulgar.

The Denier’s multi-million dollar funding machine

According to Exxonsecrets.org, run by Greenpeace, Exxon is engaged in a ‘multimillion dollar campaign’ to create public confusion about global warming. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/assets/binaries/exxon-secrets-analysis-of-fun. All told, between 1998 and 2006, Exxon is alleged to have spent nearly 23 million dollars funding various groups that publish studies and pay scientists to publish studies that claim something other than the ‘consensus’ of man-made CO2 emissions causing global warming.

My first thought when I actually read this was THAT’S IT ??

Greenpeace/Exxonsecrets pored over XOM’s annual tax returns for the numbers, and then summed them up in the article linked above. They were kind enough to summarise all the data from Exxon for the reader, warning the public of a veritable Denial Machine hell-bent on suppressing the Truth about Global Warming.

The TOTAL DOLLAR AMOUNT from Exxon to these alleged ‘denial groups’ between the years of 1998-2006 is $22,854,423. Keep in mind, however that this total is spread over 80 groups over a period of eight years. Curiously, the same article claims “several organizations and journalists have confirmed that ExxonMobil is the only known oil company to fund a network of organizations that deny the science and urgency of global warming”. So no other oil company engages in that sort of funding then? Environmentalists are a lot of things, but they aren’t lazy. If ConocoPhillips or Imperial Oil or Royal Dutch Shell or some other petroleum company was funding these ‘deniers’ en masse, it would be equally widely-publicized.

I haven’t yet dug into what the coal industry is alleged to have spent, but coal companies have never been responsible for pathetic (though certainly publicity-generating) pictures of sad-looking, dying oily birds and therefore don’t make for a particularly great target.

So the sum total from the ‘oil industry’ to ‘denialists’ is that same $23 million spread among 80 organizations. This is an average of $287,000 each, spread over eight years, or just the equivalent of just under $36,000 per year for each organization. This is the average per organization per year that has gone into funding this veritable Machine that is alone responsible for any confusion the public might have regarding Man’s role in causing the earth to warm at an ‘unprecedented rate’ that will cause future catastrophe.

Not that I would ever turn down such an amount, but that’s probably roughly the amount of salary that I earned in that same eight years as I made my way up through a variety of entry-level to middling positions. So basically, the sum total of this ‘multimillion dollar campaign’ would in reality only be enough to fund a single and not terribly well-paid junior research assistant for eighty different groups.

Now, it is true that this oh-so generous $23 million over eight years isn’t distributed evenly to each of the groups. The Property and Environment Research Center got a piddling $55,000 in that time period. The American Enterprise Institute fared better under their largess, but no single organisation seems to have been able to get Exxon to cough up more than the Competitive Enterprise Institute managed – barely over $2 million in that time frame – and under pressure from Environmental groups, they’ve since been cut off.

I’m actually familiar enough with CEI to know that they have a life outside of global warming – they fund studies on other things Exxon might be interested in such as capital gains taxes or securities regulations and so on, but let’s just pretend that every last cent did indeed go to funding these “denialists”.

Don’t take it on my word alone when I say that a couple of million here, or 23 million in eight years isn’t a lot of money even from a company that pulled in $40 Billion in 2007. If anything, Exxon’s a cheapskate. Really, if they were funding these organisations because what Environmentalists claim about global warming is such a threat to their future earnings don’t you think they’d be spending a little more than such a tiny fraction of their profits? They probably spend more on post-it notes and staplers. But numbers in isolation are still meaningless – unless there’s something else to compare them to.

Let’s take a look at a well-known advocacy group, taken at random, (also one for whom numbers are easy to come by – they’re less so for Greenpeace, who publish their numbers in Euros for a start). Let’s take PeTA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Their annual budget is $30 million.

But on to environmentalist lobby groups.

Environmental Defense’s Annual report for 2007 brings up this gem: “Total program and supporting services expenditures for fiscal 2007 reached $73.8 million” So in a single year, one single environmentalist lobby group had expenditures that were well over three times the sum total of what ExxonMobil spent on 80 lobby groups spread over 8 years. Natural Resources Defence Council fares about the same – around $75 million in 2007.

Another Dow 30 company, General Electric has been busy lobbying for subsidies for ‘alternative energy’ to the tune of $20 million in the past three years. Whoops, that’s annually, meaning around $60 million. Sorry, my mistake.  That doesn’t include their own ‘Green Week’ programming either.

In March of this year, Al Gore announced a $300 million advertising blitz on climate change. That’s more than 10X more than Exxon spent, according to Greenpeace, over eight years.

According to this site, Greenpeace, in the same time span that Exxon doled out it’s 23 million, pulled in around 2 Billion dollars. We’re not even getting into all the government grants and so on. But even with these examples it’s pretty clear where the money really is.  The World Wildlife Fund does quite well too and clears roughly the same amount.

Also, this is only a handful of examples (including, admittedly, some of the better-funded ones), but keep in mind that I haven’t factored in any government largess yet either.

Sorry, but who’s the one who’s ‘well-funded’ again?

Nice people and truths.

Several years ago I was sitting in a lounge with a small group of female friends, just out for a few drinks.  Roughly an hour or so into the evening, a familiar scene played itself out.  There were a couple of guys at a neighbouring table; one seemed fairly normal and was preoccupied watching a game on one of the TV screens mounted in the place, the other guy was one of those guys that pretty much any girl who got out more than once a month could pretty much instantly tell was one of those creepy guys.

Naturally, the creepy guy started talking to us. I can’t remember specifically what he said to us, but he had a habit of interrupting our conversation and trying to get the attention of at least one of us. It wasn’t that he’d been eavesdropping and wanted to add his own two cents; he was clearly too self-absorbed to be paying attention to what others were doing or saying. Nor did he have much to say apart from giving us the sense that he felt entitled to our attention.  Although we were all polite, he was not someone who interested any of us starting with being easily a decade older.

I was in the midst of some particularly animated conversation with one person when this same guy apparently figured it was my turn to pay attention to him.  Out of the blue, he tapped me on the shoulder and said: “I’m a nice guy you know.”

I turned around, as he was sitting behind me, and said to him, “I didn’t say you weren’t”.

“Well, you don’t have to ignore me you know.”

“I wasn’t,” I shrugged and gesturing in front of me and away from him I said, “I’m facing this way and talking to my friend who’s sitting in that direction.”

“But I’m a nice guy, and-”

“Get lost, creep” my friend Sam butted in (thanks Sam!).  She had more guts or whatever it takes to say such things. I was raised to be far too polite and find it hard, even to the most obnoxious person, to tell them straight out to buzz off.  Normally I hope that they get the hint, but some people need to be told. Really, on what planet is it appropriate to try to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger you’ve never before exchanged words with by interrupting them while they’re speaking to someone else while asserting what a nice person they are?

Anyway, the point of this little story is this: I have yet to meet anyone who tells me they’re a nice person, who actually IS a nice person.  If someone is genuinely a nice person, they never have the need to tell anyone. Such a quality can be determined through a person’s behaviour: nice people behave nicely, and rude people behave rudely. However, rude people often think of themselves as nice people, but seem to be surprised when the world doesn’t respond to them accordingly.  So instead of reflecting on this and perhaps changing their approach then instead just insist, but I’m nice. Or perhaps there are people out there who simply take what a person says about themselves at face value when they’d be better off presuming the opposite.

It’s the same with pretty much any character trait – honesty, intelligence, patience and so on. There’s never a need to tell anyone whether or not you possess these traits since if you do, they are readily apparent to anyone who’s even remotely observant.

Therefore, it is often the case that precisely those people who lack those characteristics in themselves who have to verbally assert that they do indeed have them.  The ditz who insists she’s really smart if only you get to know her, the used car salesman who claims to be ‘an honest guy’, or that creepy guy in the bar who interrupts complete strangers to tell them how he’s actually really nice.

Whenever someone has the need to tell me that they possess some positive character trait the first thing that pops into my mind is, why do they feel the need to tell me that?

Similarly , whenever someone claims they’re the ones in possession of The Truth, or they are interested in presently reality, I look for, and quickly find, plenty of lies.

The Cultural Studies Drinking Game (TM)

Controversy surrounding an alleged ‘art’ student, who shall remain anonymous, at least in my little world, suddenly took me back to my own university days. There was much controversy, blah blah blah, then a ‘manifesto’ – just like real artists have (at least back in the 20s) – that seemed to be cribbed directly from my old student reading material.

I studied Communications which unfortunately also involved Cultural Studies and Critical Theory. This stuff would be perfectly familiar to any one who took Feminist studies, anthropology and probably most senior-level arts classes too.

I say unfortunately in the sense that it was often a rather tedious challenge to get through a lot of obfuscation and unnecessary abstraction to the the actual ideas, some of which could be pretty insightful and interesting. For example, the concept of ‘hegemony’ the way it is used in Cultural Studies/critical theory is quite good, but rarely do people outside that realm have any idea what you’re talking about if you use the term.

However there’s a tendency for certain academics, and even more so their students, to hide weak ideas (or none) behind confusing and important seeming words in order to come across as intellectual. It really is so bad that Physics Professor Alan Sokal submitted an utterly fake paper to a then non-peer reviewed journal that was subsequently published.

Years later I had a room-mate who was growing frustrated with his International Relations courses – largely stumbling through the all the extraneous verbiage. Unfortunately for him, he lacked the filter in his brain that could just shut this stuff out. Most of it is neo-marxist tripe of one sort or another, some of which has some merits, but some of which is often just a hodgepodge of postmodern terminology that when actually ‘deconstructed’ can be nearly void of any actual meaning, or coherent train of thought beyond vague and dubious claims of western Imperialism.

So in the honour of my former struggling-student roommate and the spoiled Yalie, I’ve decided to invent the “cultural studies drinking game” (or if you prefer, the “critical theory drinking game”), which after 30 seconds of Googling, I’ve confirmed has not already been invented by someone else and is therefore mine.

Fiction – when referring to anything other than a book that is not non-fiction: pretend to take one shot

Myth – unless debunking a widely held belief such as changing lightbulbs will stop global warming: one swig of beer.

Ambiguity – one shot. Maybe

Adding ‘ity’ or ‘ities’ to any adjective in an attempt to turn it into a noun: e.g. ‘domestic’ vs ‘domesticity’ : two shots.

Adding any other extra syllables to any common word to make it sound more ‘academic’ – one shot per each syllable.

Relation to power or ruling class – everyone takes a shot.

Social construction – see ambiguity

Oppressive State Apparatus/Instrument of State Apparatus – throw your shot glass at the person sitting opposite

Appropriation – take the drink of the person to your right. If used in the same phrase as “class relation”, then three shots.

Discourse – everyone yells ‘chug chug chug!’ while you swallow the remainder of whatever is in your glass.

Consciousness – you’ve now lost consciousness from drinking too much. And you’ve only read two paragraphs.  Game over.

Motorcycles and Religious Freedom

I find whenever there’s a ‘Muslim headscarf’ story unavailable for public outrage a ‘Sikh Turban’ story invariably appears.
This time it’s a Brampton motorcyclist who was ticketed for not wearing a helmet, which, as a Sikh, he challenged as a violation of his religious beliefs to wear a turban at all times. I dunno, last I checked, riding motorcycles wasn’t integral to any religion (remember that ‘Zen’ book was about motorcycle maintenance, not riding per se 😉

Of course, he could always move to New Hampshire with it’s Live Free or Die motto.  According an article in an Indian publication, though oddly enough not mentioned in any Canadian one, turbans may already be worn in lieu of helmets in BC and Manitoba.

The usual arguments for mandatory helmets come down to the usual safety concerns, as well as taxpayers’ money for health costs and so on. At the same time, there is an ongoing serious lack of organ donors.

Since motorcyclists refusing to wear helmets harm nobody but themselves, I don’t think this should be an issue of religious freedom at all. If people don’t want to wear a helmet, that’s their prerogative. Just make them sign an organ donor card first.