Category Archives: culture

The Irrelevance of the American Presidential Race

culture, politics Leave a reply

[Edit, Jan 28th, 2017: given the executive orders that have gone out over the last few days and the resultant clusterfuck, I am completely wrong on this point. Consider this entire post retracted. I’m not deleting it, as I prefer to keep my mistakes visible.]

At this point, it’s agreed across the political spectrum that the American Presidential race is a disaster of epic proportions. With Trump clearly in the lead on the Republican side, much ink has been spilt over how we (or they) have gotten here.

I think that Samantha Bee (on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee) has come out of the closest when she laid the blame at the feet 2010 midterm Congressional elections. She’s absolutely correct that that election is the cause of the deadlock of the US Congress over the last several years, but I think she doesn’t go far enough.

The issue is that Congressional elections matter far more than the Presidential elections, but TV has confused the populace.

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Philosophy of science. Again.

culture, Education, philosophy, science Leave a reply

I wrote about philosophy of science back in 2012, and a recent spat in biology has brought this up again. The Wired article “Twitter Nerd-Fight Reveals a Long, Bizarre Scientific Feud” explains the details of that fight pretty well, and I just want to dig into a particular comment that seems to represent the core of the disagreement here.

“They said if you want to use another method, you have to show that it’s philosophically better, not scientifically better,” Eisen says. “That’s why I said it seems like they’re dropping science for dogma.”

and

“I’ve never in my life, in any area of science,” says Eisen, “seen something presented where people said, ‘We’re not going to judge something on the science, we’re going to judge it on the philosophy.’”

Eisen, frankly, couldn’t be more wrong (in principle).

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The Conservative Party and the Upcoming Canadian Election

culture, politics Leave a reply

To briefly post on this:

The choice here in Canada seems to be between the entirely corrupt Conservative party, and pretty much anyone else. Are they corrupt? Well, here’s a list of Federal scandals in Canada, half of which are under the current leadership. More details can be found by googling, and more citations of corruption can be view on this blog.

If you’re voting Conservative, I’m curious as to why? Feel free to leave a comment. Please note that bullshit like ‘the other parties are bad’ just won’t fly here.

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“Go Home Irish” is just Bigotry

civil rights, culture, ethics, History 1 Reply

I’m Irish. I migrated to Vancouver, BC, in May 2006. I’ve spent a lot of time learning about the imperialist and colonial history of Canada, mostly because I felt I had a responsibility to understand where I was living. I’m a citizen of both Ireland and Canada, the former by being born there, the latter as my mum was born here.

Over the years, I learned that Canada, like the US, UK and any other country really, is both a nation of immigrants and anti-immigrant. The group that rose to the top were those descended from the British settler group, the White Anglo Saxon Protestants. And while anti-immigrant racism certainly isn’t unique to the British, anti-Irish sentiment seems to be. That came too.

Let me be clear: there is no comparison to be drawn between what happened to the Natives of Canada and the US, nor to Black people. How the Irish (and Italians) are treated in North America is, frankly, cordial when compared to these other groups. That said, anti-Irish racism and bigotry is a thing.

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“Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” is Dishonest

civil rights, culture, religion Leave a reply

Sometimes you really have to wonder what people were thinking when they did something. But then, sometimes that thing is quite extended, and you realise that a *lot* of people were involved, and they *all* had to go along with it for the complete production time. And you start to realise that it wasn’t like that because nobody thought it through: they thought it through, and they were ok with it.

In this case, I’m talking about Catholic Vote, who created a reprehensible video declaring to the world what awful human beings they are.

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Vegetarianism, Skeptics and Cognitive Dissonance

culture, ethics, freethought community 1 Reply

We all have blind spots in our thinking, and sometimes they can be pretty interesting. Other times, not so much. I’ve noticed that when I post an article about vegetarianism on facebook, a number of people can’t help themselves but make ignorant comments, people who I’ve had fairly informed conversations with on other topics. I’m going to use this space to call out that behaviour, and I’ll be blocking out the identities of the people involved (because it’s not about them, but the nonsense they were spouting). Continue reading

Secular Humanism is not about Silencing Belief

civil rights, culture, religion Leave a reply

Sometimes I wonder what getting a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University entails, or even a Ph.D. in Religion and Literature from the University of Virginia. Alas, if the Rev. Dr. David Fekete is any indication, it entails not being required to actually know what you’re talking about, and to just blather any old thing without consequence.

Fekete recently penned a screed in the Edmonton Journal claiming that prohibiting prayer as part of government business privileges the belief system of Secular Humanism. From this single erroneous claim, he moves on to declare a number of falsehoods, such as “Secular humanism would have a world evacuated of religion”.

If this is the tripe that the Edmonton Journal prints, then I guess we also have the measure of that rag, in addition to Harvard’s Theological Studies department….

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A Discussion of GMOs

crapitalism, culture, health, politics, science Leave a reply

I recorded a podcast on srslywrong, and it was released last night. I’m fairly pro-GMO (generally speaking), so I was asked to take the pro-GMO side of a debate. It turned into more of a discussion of GMOs rather than a debate, and I’m pretty happy with the results.

I’m interested in feedback here, but bear in mind a couple things:

1) My background is not biology or science. I regrettably misspoke a few times in this (e.g. when I conflated genes for Roundup resistance with genes for the production of BT, and when I had a brain fart about bacteria being prokaryotes).

2) I’m not interested in yelling at people.

3) I’m interested in pushing broad strokes and general understanding, rather than devolving down nit-picky tangents. There’s a whole bunch of areas where I could have jumped down Eric/Cody’s throat for things that he said that I considered to be just plain ‘wrong’, but as they were tangential to the discussion, I left them alone. (and, to his credit, Eric/Cody cut me the same slack.

Click here to go to the podcast.

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Christianity, the Religion of Peace

culture, politics, religion Leave a reply

In the face of the violence that has occurred over the last few years, by people of varying ideological stripes, the narrative that has been written is the enlightened west fighting off the barbaric, uneducated Muslim terrorists. It doesn’t seem to matter a whit how ignorant that particular view is, all that seems to matter is that we (the people doing the bulk of the bombing world-wide) tell ourselves stories about how oppressed we are and how bad ‘they’ are..

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Bradley Miller, Judged

civil rights, culture, law, Philosophy of Law, politics Leave a reply

Professor Bradley Miller has been appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, effective January 16th, 2015. His bio there states that “his main areas of practice were commercial litigation, class actions, administrative law, constitutional law and human rights law”. And yet it would seem that his understanding of human rights is less than complete.

In an article written two years ago in Public Discourse, (Same-Sex Marriage Ten Years On: Lessons from Canada), Miller makes a range of claims that are supportable only if one believes that the right to tear down others is more valuable to society at large than the right to not be torn down.

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