Conspiracies, Secret Meetings and Backroom Deals

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As the year comes to a close, I think it’s about time I ‘fessed up about the conspiracies, secret meetings, backroom deals, hidden commissions and other underhanded dealings council has had this term. There haven’t been any. Sorry about that. I know how many people have built little, angry sand castles out of the notion we have been secretly plotting in backrooms and handing out commission cheques like drunken pirates on a shore leave, but the simple truth is that we haven’t. I know, I know, … click below for more ↓

America’s Intolerant WBC Fundamentalists

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[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JAErHl7lZ4] I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when I watched this. laugh because Russell Brand* just runs circles around these guys from the Westboro Church and they don’t seem to realize when they are being mocked. Fish in a barrel, I suppose. Cry because they obviously believe their hatred; they obviously believe that their narrow, bigoted and violent take on their scriptures is not only right, but the only one. I don’t think they got the message Brand was trying to push on them: they are too … click below for more ↓

Tax the Rich – a video

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[youtube=www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6ZsXrzF8Cc] You really should watch this video. It explains in clear, simple terms the argument of the billionaires and the rest of us. I like it because – while it’s simplistic – it is succinct and presents its argument in a powerful story. It also clearly underscores the very polarized US arguments about both taxation and wealth. This was commented on the Daily Kos as well. Amusingly, it was immediately pounced upon by the rightists as “socialist” propaganda. Sean Hannity, talking head for the uber-right Fox … click below for more ↓

Someone is wrong on the internet

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I discovered an entertaining site recently called Skeptic North. It’s a Canadian equivalent to several similar sites and blogs I read that are mostly American-based. It challenges popular assumptions, ideas, trends and pseudoscience and other claptrap. In a Canadian way, of course. Meaning that it’s usually much too polite in how it handles some of the balderdash online. I’m less gracious. Bullshit is bullshit and should be called out. I discovered it when I was looking for some additional backup material on COLD FX, an over-the-counter, … click below for more ↓

The Known Unknowns

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“There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know,” said United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld in a now-famous statement. “There are known unknowns; that is to say there are things that, we now know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.” Monday night, Council was treated to a “known unknown” when we were asked to approve a motion* that condemned a report that at least seven of us had never seen, … click below for more ↓

How to Survive the Mayan Apocalypse

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How will anyone survive the “end of the world” predicted for December 21, 2012? Easy: by breathing. That’s because it won’t happen. That the Mayans never predicted it would seems to have bypassed a few of the tin-foil-hat brigade. The complex Mayan calendar simply ends one of its long cycles – just like ours ends its annual cycle on December 31. Just like we end decades, centuries and millennia on Dec. 31 with a year that ends in zero (10, 100, 1000). But most important: it’s … click below for more ↓

Mayors Under Siege: Why Laws Must Change

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is planning to appeal the recent judicial decision that ousted him from office for failing to obey one of the basic rules of municipal governance. In fact, during the hearing, he admitted never having read the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act, one of the key pieces of legislation that govern municipal politicians, even once during his decade on council. Superior Court Justice Charles Hackland wrote a 24-page decision that called Ford’s  “wilful blindness” inexcusable, and said: “It is difficult to accept an error-in-judgment … click below for more ↓

Another popular myth debunked: moon doesn’t make crazies

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“Myth Debunked: Full Moon Does Not Increase Incidence of Psychological Problems,” says the headline on a story on Science Daily. I was amused by the notion that, in 2012, anyone would seriously believe that the moon affected human psychology – especially supposed educated people. In this case, it was very serious and resulted in a paper with the lengthy and ponderous title, “Impact of seasonal and lunar cycles on psychological symptoms in the ED: an empirical investigation of widely spread beliefs.” The abstract says: This … click below for more ↓

Do We Need a CAO to Run Town Hall?

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One of the comments in a rather lengthy letter presented to council recently was about hiring a CAO. The author demanded a “panel of qualified citizens appointed by an independent body* to oversee the recruitment, participate in interviews and the transparent selection process to fill the vacant position of Chief Administrative Officer for the Town of Collingwood.” Aside from being wildly out of context in a letter ostensibly about local recreation facilities, that non-sequitur underscores a common misunderstanding about the nature of municipal governance and bureaucracy. Many municipalities have CAOs … click below for more ↓

Ten Lessons Learned From the Petraeus Affair

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After watching the recent, exaggerated – and sordid – upheaval over the story about an extramarital affair that the (now former) head of the CIA had with his biographer, I have come to several conclusions about America, sex, American media and publicity: 1. Americans, who bought millions of copies of “Fifty Shades of Grey“, a poorly-written, highly derivative, pornographic book, and then turned it into a national industry that includes home parties where BDSM equipment is sold to housewives, and dozens of spin-off blogs based on the book, are easily offended … click below for more ↓

Post-US Election Thoughts: The Blame Game

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It didn’t take long for the blame, the vitriol, the accusations and the excuses to start spewing forth from the Republicans, after Obama won a second presidential term. You would think that the party would be chastened, introspective and look to where they failed to engage the electorate. Do some serious soul-searching: what failed? Policies? Platforms? Ground work? Attack ads? Flip flops? Instead they seem to have their collective heads stuck in the sand and instead to looking inwardly, they are blaming others for their failure. … click below for more ↓

The Useless Web

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We all know Wikipedia is not always accurate, and sometimes biased. We all know that most internet quotations are wrong attributed or misquoted. We all know that the Web is full of useless, trivial pap like “psychic” hot lines, astrology, creationism and Ann Coulter. Plus it’s replete with the shallow: salacious gossip, celebrity skin, innuendo, pornography, political extremism, angels, UFOs, crop circles, anti-vaccine advocates, religious fundamentalists – the intellectual-nourishment equivalent of a  box of greasy fries and a sugar-laden soft drink. But they are content-rich, compared … click below for more ↓

Work and time slip by unnoticed

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You’d think being semi-retired (or as I call it, creatively unemployed) would give me more time to do the things I like to do, more time to be creative. Nah. Things seem to intervene to prevent a focused approach on creativity these days. Not to mention that my Rogers internet crashed for a couple of days because their servers couldn’t keep my IP constant, so I was cast adrift from my virtual life and back into the depths of the printed work – poking through … click below for more ↓

Evolution, Creationism, and Elections

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Earlier this summer, Gallup released the results of its latest poll on American belief in evolution, creationism and “intelligent” design. The results are among the most depressing numbers ever posted about the decay of American thought and education. Yet although this should set off the warning bells to both US presidential candidates that something needs to be done to stem this problem, none of this has been raised in the debates or on the campaign trail. How can this have happened in one of the most technologically … click below for more ↓

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