Why Quebec’s Proposed Headgear Law is Wrong

The Province of Quebec is proposing to ban the wearing of any and all religious headgear (including hijabs, turbans and yarmulkes, as well as other religious symbols) from public facilities and public service – affecting teachers, hospital workers, daycare workers, nurses, civil servants and (we assume) politicians. The law would also cover “ostentatious” crucifixes, which has led to darkly humorous speculation about police stopping people to … (more–>)

Christmas Creep in August

On August 22, we got the Sears “Christmas Wish” catalogue delivered to our home. It was a sunny, hot day that almost reached 30C. The sprinkler was watering the garden while we enjoyed a cold beer on the porch, sitting in shorts and T-shirts. The last thing I wanted on my mind was winter. But there it was, two pounds of wildly-inappropriate seasonal shopping choices, refusing … (more–>)

Hell 2.2

Might be time to recap my reasons for writing this series. New readers could get confused about the content in the Hell posts, of which this is the fourth. They’re all the result of a convergence of several recent themes and activities in my life; a lot of which have to do with recent reading and research. I started reading several books, more or less simultaneously … (more–>)

Kill the Apostrophe? Rubbish! Keep it!

A site has popped up with one of the stupidest ideas about English I’ve read in the past decade or two. It’s called Kill the Apostrophe. Subtle. At first, I thought it was a joke, a spoof. After all, how can one realistically get rid of perhaps the most significant element of punctuation based on the rantings of a website lunatic? And some of the counterpoint … (more–>)

The sum of all knowledge

In his 2004 book, The Know-It-All, A. J. Jacobs tells of his quest to become “the smartest person in the world” by reading the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover. Right away, you can see the fly in this intellectual ointment: knowledge doesn’t equal intelligence. Jared Diamond, in his introduction to Guns, Germs, and Steel, credits the barely literate, ill-educated tribespeople of New Guinea as being … (more–>)

Casinos redux

First let’s clarify the terms. A “casino” was never really in the discussion, although just about everyone used that term. What the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. (OLG) offered was a “gaming facility” as they euphemistically called it. A gambling joint, others said. It was to be a warehouse-like, windowless building with up to 300 slot machines. No keno, no gaming tables for poker or blackjack, … (more–>)

Believing is Seeing

“He who permits himself to tell a lie once,” wrote Thomas Jefferson (in a letter to his nephew, Peter Carr, from Paris, France, 1785), “finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world’s believing him. This falsehood of tongue leads to that of the heart, … (more–>)

Racism and the US Civil Rights movement retold

As I read through Rick Perlstein’s book, Nixonland, about American politics and life in the 1950s and 60s, the Civil Rights movement and the reaction to it by white Americans, the narrative astounds me. Such anger, such violence. Such sadness. It seems like such an alien place, dystopian, almost fictional, like an Orwellian novel. I was, it seems from my reading, not really aware, not fully … (more–>)

Reading, Writing and Memory

“Memory,” he read the headline as he settled into the armchair, resting his elbows on the wide arms to expand the National Post paper to its fullest, “declines much slower in people who read, write throughout life.” Ah. Interesting. He peered closer. “Reading books, writing letters and working on crossword puzzles throughout life may help preserve the brain’s memory faculties and fend off Alzheimer’s disease and … (more–>)

The CAO Conspiracies

Collingwood has appointed an interim CAO, John Brown, former city manager of Brantford, St. John’s and Oshawa, to help the town’s administration and governance during the interim while we search for a full-time CAO. This will, of course, send the bloggers into a frothing tizzy of frenetic accusations and conspiracy theories. So to save them the effort of having to explain this, I have written some plausible conspiracy … (more–>)

The Decline in Media Credibility and Profitability

Last August the Pew research Center released the results of its latest study on how much the American public trusts the media. This has been part of an ongoing study since at least 2002, and ever since the first report, the amount of trust in media has fallen. This has been a hot topic of discussion online ever since, and the source of much hand-wringing at … (more–>)

Who Knows Where the Time Goes?

I was thinking of the lines from that Fairport Convention song this week as we walked through Toronto on our three-day mini-holiday. I can still hear Sandy Denny’s wonderful, haunting voice singing the chorus of that dreamy, sad song, as vibrantly as the day I first played the album, back in the late 1960s: For who knows where the time goes? Who knows where the time … (more–>)

The Game of the Book of Thrones

No, it’s not about that heavyweight book series by George Martin, or the TV series based on it (or even about how you really need to read the books to understand anything that is happening in the TV series). It’s about the other throne, the porcelain one. And what books are best for reading thereon. Yes, reading on the toilet. Don’t tell me you just sit … (more–>)

What if you’re wrong?

[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=beYYZRN1sEs] Great visualization of the now-famous response from evolutionary biologist, author, and well-known atheist, Richard Dawkins, when asked in 2006 about his argument that there is no god, “What if you’re wrong?” “Anybody could be wrong, ” he replies. “We could all be wrong about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Pink Unicorn and the Flying Teapot.” All of these refer to various arguments used to illustrate the … (more–>)

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