Please preserve the CBC: no more cuts!

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Canadians who care about media content, journalistic integrity and fair reporting are anxiously watching for tomorrow’s federal budget announcements. Big cuts to the CBC are expected, according to this Huffington Post story: Cuts to CBC funding expected in the upcoming federal budget could have dramatic implications, touching everything from popular television programming to foreign news bureaus and eliminating hundreds of jobs, observers predict. The CBC’s own story about the predicted cuts doesn’t mention the CBC, but it does say, “…many public servants in Ottawa are … click below for more ↓

Scribble, scribble, eh what?

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Just passed the 13,000 word mark on my current book about Machiavelli and municipal politics, this weekend. So far, I have gone through explanations of Chapters 1-10 of The Prince. The Prince has 26 chapters, so I’m about 40% of the way through my analysis, more or less on track for a 35,000-40,000 word book. It’s a little tough in places trying to fit Machiavelli’s words and ideas to modern issues and themes, but so far I think I’ve done a fair job of finding … click below for more ↓

This is about keeping schools secular, not about atheism.

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I stumbled across a story this week about a school district in Ontario that had decided to disallow free distribution of the Bible by the Gideons in its schools. My first thought was, “Wow. I didn’t even know the Gideons were still in business.” Then I wondered why anyone was distributing bibles at a secular school in the first place. The story actually originated in the Toronto Star. The Gideons have been distributing bibles since 1908, and in Canada since 1911. I’ve only seen the … click below for more ↓

Is Machiavelli relevant to today’s municipal politicians?

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Are the political theories of a 16th-century Italian diplomat relevant to today’s municipal politics? Yes, assuming you know and have read his works, not just the bumper-sticker over-simplification that says, “The end justifies the means.” Actually, Machiavelli never wrote those words. That’s a modern condensation. It’s also an erroneous paraphrase of what he wrote in The Prince, because it overlooks a lot of his comments on the effect of some types of behaviour on the honour and reputation of the ruler. Machiavelli stressed the cause … click below for more ↓

So many bad quotes, so little time

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I was browsing through my blog posts today and found I have actually written about improperly attributed quotations on the Net nine times since I first started blogging back in March, 2005. On my old Mumpsimus blog, I posted two pieces about these bad memes: A quote misattributed to Henry David Thoreau, November, 2010. A quote misattributed to William Shakespeare, January, 2009. On this new blog, which I launched in mid_December, 2011, I have written seven pieces about bad Internet quotes, starting with the Slowly … click below for more ↓

James Miles? Goethe? Sorry: this quote is from Malcolm Forbes

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Another New Age quote showed up on Facebook today, one of those warn-n-fuzzy, touchy-feely sayings that either make you gag or go weak at the knees. This one is ascribed to James D. Miles. Miles was, according to answers.com (a site of dubious factuality and not terribly reliable at the best of timns), “…an associate professor of Psychology at Purdue University.” The author of this answer claimed Miles was “…quoting the German poet, novelist, playwright, scientist and philosopher Johann Wofgang von Goethe (1749-1832).” Miles is, … click below for more ↓

Does This Really Sound Like Sitting Bull?

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Another quote meme going around on the Internet claims to be from Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotake), the famous Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux chief. A fascinating man in a difficult time, and a source of inspiration today. He was brave, intelligent and, from all accounts, wise. So when I read the quote below, I was torn. It’s a good comment, one that sounds like it should come from a wise man. But was that wise man really Sitting Bull? Or perhaps these words are from someone else. … click below for more ↓

Crystal crazy: self-professed psychics on Facebook

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The Internet has provided a virtual continent for the colonies of faith healers, psychics, astrologers, UFO hunters, ghost and haunting sightings, crypto-zoologists, promoters of angels, spirits, demons, auras, and a wealth of pseudoscience and claptrap. In a culture where the critical thinking, quest of knowledge and skepticism that characterized the Enlightenment have given way to superstition and fundamentalism, the Net has proven a rich source of believers and followers for the charlatans and hucksters. Facebook and Youtube combine to make the Alexandria Library for the … click below for more ↓

Is a wandering mind ADHD or just natural reaction?

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Serendipity: this image appeared on Facebook this week, followed by an article on Science Daily today, titled, “A Wandering Mind Reveals Mental Processes and Priorities.” The combined impact got me thinking about attention and focus. A new study investigating the mental processes underlying a wandering mind reports a role for working memory, a sort of a mental workspace that allows you to juggle multiple thoughts simultaneously… The new study, published online March 14 in the journal Psychological Science … reports that a person’s working memory … click below for more ↓

Why the Republicans are bad for science

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Rick Santorum’s recent win in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries are frightening for anyone who values science and critical thinking. Santorum is not the only Republican who frightens me. They all do. But Santorum most of all. The idea of a right-wing, homophobic, fundamentalist, creationist running the biggest and most powerful nation in the world is scary enough to keep me awake at night. Santorum was the author of a 2001 amendment to the US education funding bill. His pro-creationist proposal was known as The … click below for more ↓

NASA latest target of creationist harridans

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A former NASA computer technician has filed an wrongful dismissal suit against his former employer, alleging he was, “discriminated against because he engaged his co-workers in conversations about intelligent design.” Engaged is a mild word. From what I’ve read in more balanced reports, he proselytized and his co-workers complained. The trial began Monday (documents here). David Coppedge admitted he, “…handed out (religious) DVDs on the idea while at work.” But that’s not all. According to this AP story, Coppedge was also involved in political campaigning … click below for more ↓

That’s not mass, it’s area. Poor science means bad reporting.

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It will come from space, be as massive as half a football field, have the explosive power to decimate hundreds of square miles of land and will hurtle perilously close to Earth. I cringed when I read this paragraph in a QMI story published in the London Free Press recently, titled “Rock of Ages: Killer Asteroid Likely to Pass in 2013.” So many mistakes in so few words. But it might be a great start for a Roger Corman B-flick script. Of course, “it” will … click below for more ↓

That squiggle cost taxpayers HOW much?

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I read in the latest edition of the Collingwood Connection that: “Regional Tourist Organization 7 (is) now Bruce Grey Simcoe.” Were you even aware of Regional Tourist Organization 7 before that story? According to the Connection, The organization announced its new brand and logo on Thursday at the Bear Estate in Collingwood. Bruce Grey Simcoe is one of 13 regional tourism organizations across the province. Executive director Jeffery Schmidt said the group has been doing research and marketing over the past year in preparation for … click below for more ↓

Sorry the world didn’t end for you….

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Howard Camping is one sorry person. Really. This week he apologized – again – for making an incorrect “doomsday” prediction last year that had hundreds, maybe thousands, of his co-religious wingnuts eagerly selling all their belongings in anticipation of the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI, October 21). Oops. World didn’t end, but then we knew it wouldn’t, didn’t we? Just like it won’t end this December simply because the Mayans ran out of room on their stone calendar for another long … click below for more ↓

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