Alternative Facts Are Older Than Facts

Categories: Philosophy and Society.

aka Western Philosophy Caused Alternative Facts We are told that so-called “alternative facts” are a new threat to us as a society; to how we view and understand the world and how we make decisions about the world (policies etc). But I think the idea of an “alternative” fact is far older and, worse, rooted in the very basic ideas most of us who’ve grown up with Christianity and Western philosophy believe to be true. I blame Plato for alternative facts. Okay, I don’t just blame Plato for alternative facts, I blame Western normative philosophy. But, as the saying goes, Read More

Graham Greene and McCarthyism

Categories: Politics and Society.

In 1952 the British Catholic novelist Graham Greene attempted to visit the United States to meet with his American publisher, among other things. Greene had visited the US multiple times before and had even put a play on in Boston (an adaptation of his The Heart of the Matter, it was a disaster). He applied for a visa from Saigon, where he was working at the time, and was refused. He was refused because, for 6 weeks in the 1920s, he had been a member of the Communist Party of Britain, “as a prank.” (Throughout his life, Greene was fond Read More

Fascism is Alive and Well in the United States of America

Categories: 2017, Personal, Politics, and Society.

I must admit that I have been somewhat of a “Trump optimist” these last few months. I believed in his obvious, demonstrable incompetence at just about everything he does (except branding and self-promotion, obviously). (He’s been abetted in this incompetence by untold numbers of people if you’re wondering why someone who is generally incompetent can be rich; con-men are only good at convincing you they’re good at something.) When others told me he was dangerous, I told them that I would believe it when I saw it but, for the time being, I preferred to believe that he would just Read More

Immigration

Categories: 2017, Politics, and Society.

A lot of people have being saying a lot of things about immigrants and immigrants these last few years. I have added my two cents. If you are interested, I would appreciate you reading it. If you like it, I would appreciate the social media share on the social network of your choice. Read about why we hate immigrants. And, if you find it interesting, please do check out my other pieces on similar subjects. Thanks. Read More

Well that was Stupid

Categories: 2016, Politics, and Society.

Regardless of how you feel about last night’s US general election, why did that take 18 months? Why does it take 18 months to make a decision about who should be president? 18 months! This is not normal. No other democracy in the world takes this long to pick its head of state. None. This is abnormal. Until Americans realize this en masse, it’s safe to say meaningful electoral reform will not occur. Read More

Detective School

Categories: 2016, Philosophy, Science, and Society.

If I have learned one thing from immersing myself in too many true crime podcasts, TV series and movies, it’s this: most detectives have never been taught to think. There seems to be an obsession with relying on instinct and (supposed) “known knowns” and nothing else; no rigorous investigation techniques, no awareness of the infamous “unknown knowns,” known unknowns” and “unknown unknowns,” no logic, no deduction, no method whatsoever. Just “I feel this way so it must be true.” And that’s a problem. That’s a problem because “instinct” isn’t really a thing. What sometimes feels to us as deliberate framing Read More

The Tragically Hip Live at the K-Rock Centre, August 20, 2016

Categories: 2016, Music, Religion, and Society.

I wasn’t going to watch this show. The cynic in me found the sudden outpouring of interest in The Hip weird. I felt like people I’d never heard mention this band previously were now obsessed with getting tickets to shows, all because someone (Canadian) famous is dying of cancer. Instead, I was going to watch the Olympics like I had been doing all day. I don’t know how I was going to watch the Olympics – I don’t have cable and only get CBC – but I was going to watch them. I wasn’t going to let CBC preempt my Read More

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (2015, Stanley Nelson)

Categories: 2015, Movies, and Society.

Age is a funny thing. I watched this movie months ago, perhaps more than that, on Netflix and forgot to review it (I think!), forgot to rate it, both things I do religiously. And then I got it from the library this week. When I started watching it (because Olympic golf is on!) I got the strongest sense of deja vu. I remember it being a pretty thorough examination of an important and complicated part of US history. It’s a standard documentary but it’s educational and it’s a story that needs to be told. I will say that I always Read More

We do not want to know what we do not want to know

Categories: 2016, Psychology, and Society.

People say we’re rational. Human beings may be animals, but we are animals who have overcome our animal natures to make calculated decisions about our choices. I mean, look at all we’ve accomplished with our big brains. We tell each other we think rationally, even logically. And we  want rational explanations for what is happening in the world. We want to know why things happen. But every person who believes this is wrong to a degree. Human beings are not entirely rational. We may be able to think rationally or even logically about certain select things but, usually, we’re driving Read More

Informing the News (2013) by Thomas E. Patterson

Categories: 2013, Books, Journalism, Non-Fiction, and Society.

This book was written to make the case for “knowledge-based” journalism. It was sponsored by an initiative that is trying to establish that kind of journalism. The author believes strongly in the cause ans has been a crucial part of the initiative that sponsored his work here. But despite the fact that this is very much a work of advocacy, it is a compelling and informative read, touching on the history of American journalism (print, radio, TV and internet) as it explores the issues that have arisen with the rise of “Infotainment” and “Citizen journalism.” Though I question the methodologies Read More

The Peep Diaries (2009) by Hal Niedzviecki

Categories: 2009, Books, Journalism, Non-Fiction, Psychology, and Society.

This is a relatively interesting and amusing book about how modern technology and modern culture have created a brave new world that we don’t really understand how to navigate (and which could have all sorts of unintended consequences for us. However, the book suffers from a number of problems which make it not among the best books to examine this particular moment in human history (and there are a lot of these books). First, Niedzviecki tries to give all the different things he covers one name: Peep. Obviously that didn’t stick. And the problem is that he comes off as Read More

Better This World (2011, Kelly Duane, Katie Galloway)

Categories: 2011, Movies, Politics, and Society.

This is an important film that is really, really worth your time. What starts off seemingly as a portrait of some well-intentioned youths that got into some bad shit (and feels, perhaps, like an apology for such behaviour) soon reveals itself to be the story of something so much worse. Though it’s weird to say this about a documentary, I’ll do it anyway. If you haven’t read the plot description or heard about this movie, SPOILER ALERT Read More

An Open Letter to His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston

Categories: Politics and Society.

Your Excellency, I don’t need to tell you that as the Queen’s representative in Canada you are essentially our Head of State. Regardless of the massive changes that have occurred since the position of Governor General was created, you remain in a position of actual authority even if the weight of the office has diminished over the years. As the de facto Head of State of Canada, you have a responsibility to the country as a whole and individual Canadians to safeguard the nation’s customs and laws. This responsibility should be above that of any allegiance you think you owe Read More

Abolish the Senate?

Categories: Politics and Society.

A lot of people are calling for the abolition of the Senate lately, and these calls will increase if the chamber dose what everyone expects, and passes C-51 this week, while at the same time, hearing a report about Senate corruption. (You have to love situations like this: a body tasked with being the “sober second thought” of Canada will pass a bill severely eroding the Chart of Rights and Freedoms while, at virtually the same time, listening to a report about how corrupt they are – a report that will no doubt pull many of its punches.) But I Read More

My Message to Senator Yonah Martin

Categories: 2015, Politics, and Society.

Dear Ms. Martin, I would like to express my deep disappointment with you and your fellow Senators regarding Bill C-51, a bill that is unconstituional (and will be found so, I have no doubut). The idea of the Senate is that is a place to reevaluate government legislation. Ostensibly this duty should be above partisan poilitcs. Obviously, your behaviour indicates that you are not interested in evaluating the merits and demerits of what is most assuredly the worst piece of federal legislation I have seen in my lifetime. Limiting debate on this bill, even in a fairly powerless chamber, like Read More

It’s not just C-51 that’s the problem, it’s the System

Categories: 2015, Politics, and Society.

I haven’t posted anything original in this space since February, in part because I am writing a new book, but in part because I have been a little depressed about the seeming inevitably of the government passing the worst piece of Federal legislation I have seen in my lifetime. (If you don’t know what C-51 is, or you don’t think it’s particularly bad, please see the last few posts on this site, none written by me, which detail many of the problems with this brutal bill.) Read More

A short primer on Bill C-51

Categories: 2015, Politics, and Society.

Please take 13 minutes to watch this video about Bill C-51, which will drastically alter freedoms and civil liberties in Canada. [vimeo 120103590 w=500 h=281] Bill C-51 (Antiterrorism Act 2015): Short Primer on Key Aspects from Craig Forcese on Vimeo. Read More

Open letter to Parliament: Amend C-51 or kill it

Categories: Politics and Society.

I was struggling with writing a long post about the current legislation in parliament and this government’s history of caring not for the rules of the game. However, this open letter says what I think with more detail than I could have possibly mustered. Read More

The belief in Justice is probably the breeding ground for injustice

Categories: Philosophy, Politics, Religion, and Society.

I have long identified myself as an atheist (even though I’m an agnostic) in religion, an existentialist in philosophy and “anti-apocalyptic” or “anti-ideological” person in politics (i.e. a pragmatist). I have long struggled with this last definition, not because I don’t know what I am – I know exactly what I am, politically – but rather because I have trouble encapsulating it in one word. Politically, I am a centrist or, as I used to jokingly describe myself: a libertarian social democrat with a conservative streak. But I’m not a centrist because of a lack of conviction; I cannot pick Read More

Mingus, Songza, and the Problem of Curated Music

Categories: 2015, Psychology, and Society.

So I have been getting to know Songza lately, whether I knew it or not. For the last month or more, my boss has been putting on Songza playlists as our office music. These playlists have mostly replaced internet radio as our workplace soundtrack of late. (I wasn’t fully aware what this was until a recent beer tasting, when someone was telling me about Songza and I realized that this is what we were listening to at work.) Read More

Everything is and should be mockable

Categories: Journalism, Politics, Religion, and Society.

I would just like to take this opportunity to express my dismay that this is happening yet again and that I fully support any and all publication’s right to satirize anything. I have not seen the cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo but it doesn’t matter. Anyone who shoots or otherwise harms someone else, especially over art, is committing a far greater crime than any perceived insult. An insult is not even really a thing – it is only an insult to people who interpret it as an insult. But these are people’s lives. Real people. And now they are dead Read More

Please, everyone, just calm down

Categories: Politics and Society.

Please, everyone, let’s just calm down a little. Let’s try to have a sense of perspective. Let’s try to think about the big picture. I know that’s very difficult when someone you never met dies, but let’s try to be bigger than knee-jerk reactions this one time. Read More

The Poverty of Ideology

Categories: Philosophy.

This article on libertarianism says pretty much what I was trying to say in my book, only more rigorously (and with 0 sense of humour). However, I think the general point of this article – that something like libertarianism is empty theory ignorant of human behaviour and human history – is actually a point that needs to be made, repeatedly, against all ideologies. Yes, even (certain forms of) liberalism. Read More