27 January 2008


This is not a blog in the normal sense of the word, but an extended profile of a profligate commenter on other blogs, DV82XL . The web is full of decent blogs and I have no wish to compete with them. I believe I can better serve the blogging community by posting comments and acting as sort of a cross-pollinator of ideas. I am posting this extended profile to give those that are interested an idea of who lies behind my nom écran, and to clear up any doubt on my position on various topics.

DV82XL is the screen name of a 60 year old semi-retired male living in one of the oldest towns in Quebec that now is a suburb of Montreal. I have been married to my wife for thirty-five years and we have raised two children into successful and independent young adults.

My background is in chemistry and metallurgy. I have spent my career in materials science and processing, mostly in aerospace. I currently consult in this field.

For the record I do not nor have I worked for any company that was involved in nuclear power, nuclear weapons, or uranium mining or processing.

I consider myself a scientific skeptic, a commonsense utilitarian, and a rational pragmatist. That is I question the veracity of all claims lacking empirical evidence. For me there only two type of question: those that can be answered by science, and those that cannot be answered yet.

I try hard to make decisions based on realities rather than by idealism based on hope or ideology based on political agendas. I find it useful to resolve differences or confront choices by asking: What function does an idea or proposal fulfill, and how does it fulfill it? Is the idea practical? Who benefits from it? What good or harm could it do? Is it needed? And I always, always maintain the option to change my mind in the light of new information.

I am an Atheist and think theists are deluded and a threat to society. I came to this position because I have not ever been presented evidence for the existence of an entity that could reasonably be called a god. Theists on the other hand choose to subordinate their thinking to faith in a nonexistent supernatural being to the point of sacrificing their own lives and the lives of others to this idea contrary to the fundamental imperatives of survival.

I have yet to see any reliable evidence that supports any paranormal or supernatural phenomena in fact I find the whole idea of the paranormal and supernatural illogical; if these things did exist they would be by definition natural and would follow normal laws of the universe.

It is my view that medicine while practiced as an art is founded on science. The human body is an exceptionally complex organism and its workings and failings are not as yet completely understood consequently it is unreasonable to expect physicians to achieve the same level of success as those that work on simpler systems, like a locksmith for example.

This lack of guaranteed outcomes however does not mean science based medicine is failing. It simply means that it is still being developed. I expect any viable treatment modality, be it administered by a physician, or by some other qualified professional to have its foundations in science and will be shown effective by double blind testing. Anything else I dismiss as quackery.

It is crystal clear to me that Mankind needs to exercise responsible stewardship of this planet if for no other reason than to assure our species survival. To that end it is imperative that we must mitigate and ameliorate the impact that we are making on the biosphere. This however does not mean that I hold we must do so in a manner that will reduce the quality of our lives or the lives of others.

On the issues of global warming and peak oil I hold the following view: even if the evidence that burning hydrocarbons has had a deleterious effect on the weather (and the environment in general) or that the supply of oil is running out is disputable now, there no doubt that we cannot continue to increase our use of these fuels at the current pace without these impacts occurring. In other words changing weather patterns may indeed be natural, or they may be caused by greenhouse gases; the fact that we seem to be running out of oil, may be it true or a fabrication. It doesn’t really mater, if they are not now, they will eventually be factors. We have the technology to deal with the negative aspects of combustion technologies by eliminating them, and I hold that we should.

I support nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is one of the great scientific discoveries of the past century and represents a valuable piece of intellectual capital to be passed on to future generations. Nuclear energy is a nearly carbon-free electricity generation source and benefits from a large and diversified fuel resource base. Nuclear power plants are extremely competitive in nearly all market conditions as they have very low sensitivity to fuel costs.

In my opinion the nuclear case is sound. Long-term resources exist; current technology is mature and enjoys excellent records in terms of safety and environmental protection; future technologies focusing on efficient use of fuel resources and minimization of waste production are under development; and competitiveness with fossil fuel for base-load electricity generation is real. Such strengths support the idea that nuclear energy should make the most significant contribution to a sustainable energy future and the security of energy supplies and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective manner.

I do not like nuclear weapons and I am appalled by the thought of their use. However I recognise that this is their greatest utility. It’s interesting to note that aggressive politicians tend to turn into tame sane cautious ones as soon as they split atoms. Whatever their motivations and intents, the mechanics of how nuclear weapons work dictate that warmongering leaders become peace-loving ones very quickly.

Depleted uranium is not a hazard greater than any other heavy metal, and I have seen no reputable studies that say otherwise.

I have nothing against GM food in and of itself if the necessary testing has been done. I have some issues with the current practice of using intellectual property laws to protect these products.

On the subject of intellectual property laws in general I think that it is obvious that the current structure of these laws are antiquated and are in dire need of a complete overhaul in light of advances in technology.

I think education in the West is a disgrace, and its failure to produce literate, numerate, critical thinkers a huge danger to the continuance of our technology dependent civilization and the democracy that governs it.