Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .
 “Are Catholic critics of Pope Francis strengthened by Trump’s rise to power?”(Audio: 24:11)
Atheists often paint Pope Francis as much less progressive than he is popularly seen to be, but the reality is that by religious standards, Francis is remarkably progressive. Within the Catholic Church, he is facing a wave of rebellion from hard right, conservative elements – elements that oppose Francis’s focus on helping the poor and cleaning up the environment, and want instead to go back to the old focus of bashing abortion and gay people – many of whom want to ally with American Evangelicals to create a unified religious right. This is an interesting discussion about the issue.
 The Christian Right’s Origins of Fake News and ‘Alternative Facts’
There is a peculiar asymmetry in the gullibility on those on the left and the right when it comes to “fake news”, and the right may be more susceptible because of Christian fundamentalism.
 Islamophobia Motion: Opponents And Supporters Clash In Montreal
The protests were mostly peaceful, but there were sporadic and isolated outbreaks of violence between anti-fascists and representatives of right-wing hate groups.
 “Episode 196 – Guest Stephen Law”(Audio: 1:06:01)
This is a very interesting discussion with philosopher Stephen Law about popularizing philosophy, among other things.
 Gord, Sheila, Graham and Beverley? The Most Distinctively Canadian Names Are Not What You’d Expect
Here’s a fun exercise in data crunching that reveals an interesting result. The writers at The 10 and 3 took the most popular names in both the US and Canada, then calculated the difference in popularity between each country to determine which names are the most uniquely Canadian by gender and decade. The surprising results for the 2010s? “Linden” for boys; “Zainab” for girls.
 Bill S-201: Genetic Non-Discrimination Act
A couple weeks ago Weekly Update mentioned an attempt by the Liberals and the Bloc Québécois to gut the bill. But Liberal back-benchers defied Trudeau, and it failed, and now the bill has passed both houses – all we need is Royal Assent, and the bill is law. However, the Liberals are planning to stall the bill by seeking Supreme Court approval.
 Bill C-39: An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unconstitutional provisions) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts
This is actually a pretty important bill, and one that’s long overdue. There are numerous parts of the Criminal Code that are complete garbage – either archaic or long-since overturned by the Courts. For decades they’ve just sat in the Criminal Code rotting, but there have been serious miscarriages of justice when judges have used long-defunct laws, known as “zombie laws”. Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould has promised to clean all this crud out, and now she’s starting to make good on that promise. This bill will finally remove the “crime” of procuring a miscarriage – which carried a two-year sentence for the pregnant woman and life for anyone who assisted – from the Criminal Code (§287), along with provisions for underage anal sex (§159; sentence: ten years), lying publicly (§181; sentence: two years), and a couple other technical items relating to procuring biological evidence and murder without intent. This doesn’t touch the blasphemy law (§296), unfortunately, but neither does it touch the laws on witchcraft (§365) and dozens of other “zombie laws”, but it is a start.
 Humanist marriage report published
As part of their efforts to get the province to recognize Humanist celebrants, BC Humanist has published a report on marriage officiating in the province. 90% of registered celebrants are Christian, and there are “religious” organizations that exist for the sole purpose of licensing celebrants.
 Shell sells out of the oilsands. Was it climate or costs?
It’s not been widely reported, but major oil companies have been abandoning the oil sands. Both ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips have “de-booked” huge chunks of the oil sands – in layman’s terms, they’ve written off the previously claimed value in the oil sands as a lost investment, taking a hit in the stock prices for it. And now Royal Dutch Shell has sold off their holdings. Note that all this is despite both federal and provincial governments falling over themselves to promote oil sands development, and the approval of multiple pipelines (with more promised). It’s time to accept the recommendations of most climate scientists, and just leave the oil in the oil sands… but we’ll have to rein in our out-of-control politicians, who seemed determined to double down on a lost cause.
 Inside A Canadian Hate Group
The modern face of hate, the “alt-right” comes wrapped in the garb of harmless Internet trollery, and it’s been many decades since most Canadians have seen large-scale impacts of hate they can’t ignore. But we shouldn’t forget that hate groups aren’t just about the lulz, and frequently have a very dark side.
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“There is a peculiar asymmetry in the gullibility on those on the left and the right”
There really isn’t. And this kind of smugness is dangerous, both politically, and also by giving yourself permission to ignore your own lazy thinking.
“The writers at The 10 and 3 took the most popular names in both the US and Canada”
This is not a valid test. They should have compared Canadian names against all the globe, not just the USA.
If the result isn’t some Inuit name, you’re probably doing it wrong.
“There are numerous parts of the Criminal Code that are complete garbage”
If we ever re-open our constitution (also LONG overdue, despite only being from 1982) we ought to require parliament to re-pass each individual crime law, each decade.
We can’t be using the threat of the gun, and prison, on things which haven’t even been reviewed in a decade.
Also, this would give parliament something actually useful to do, so they would have less time to screw things up.
AND it would allow them to legalize things that they lack the guts to do actively, by letting them passively fall off the books.
“In the early 1990s, white supremacist groups like the Heritage Front and the Aryan Nation were active across Canada. Sarah watched, heartbroken as her boyfriend Nick was drawn deeper into the Ottawa branches of the alt-right”
This early paragraph is how you know the article is suspect. In the early 1990s, there was no alt-right. The term didn’t even exist until this decade, and has been used to describe pretty much anyone who voted for Trump, or even for Johnson, for any reason.
I was expecting to learn something from the article, but I barely even used the scrollbar and it was already over.
“There is a peculiar asymmetry in the gullibility on those on the left and the right when it comes to ‘fake news’,”
That is plainly false, and self-serving. You are clearly camped out on the far left of the spectrum, at least on social issues.
It takes someone orthogonal to that axis to correctly describe it, and I promise you that you of the left are JUST as gullible as those on the right.
You can wear your smugness like a security blanket, but that’s all it is. We can all see it.
While I very much enjoyed Sandel’s notable introductory course on Justice, my attempts to engage with philosophers have led me to conclude that these are people who have almost nothing whatsoever to offer the world (including Sandel).
Many of them seem to find even simple rules of logic to be a toxin to their systems.
Others find that real-world evidence is their kryptonite; philosophy must only be about reason, in an idealized universe nothing like our own.
And if you don’t do philosophy in the “right way” (in a university, trying to get published, and tenure) then you’re not a real thinker. The whole charade puts the public off, and that harms us all, because the TOOLS of (some) philosophy are necessary.
(I have no illusions about my status as a non-philosopher… but I also have no illusions about other people’s status AS philosophers)
“which names are the most uniquely Canadian”
Let me tell you something about Canadian names, which is not true for US names.
In the US, you are who you say you are. So, in the USA, I am Randy. I have always been called Randy. I have always called myself Randy. Nobody knows me by any other name.
But in Canada, I have another name. A government name. And that name is not Randy. Nobody calls me by this government name. I mean not even ONCE, unless they are reading it off a government form. I do not respond to it.
And I am told that if the government is going to correct its error, I have to pay it. And I have to get all my ID changed simultaneously.
I promise you, you are not going to like the results of S-201. (But, because I actually do believe in equality, I will like it). The inclusion of “genetic characteristics” in the Human Rights Act is going to be as sweeping as the creation of the Act itself was (and the ability to “read in” changes to it).
A genetic characteristic is not merely your raw DNA, or how that represents a collection of genes (and some junk, perhaps), and how the genes can be switched on and off, and how these are all collected onto chromosome pairs (usually).
We know that in some cases, a partial genotype can be determined by simply examining the phenotype. You don’t need the test. You can tell with stunning accuracy, for example, whether a person has XX, XY, or some other combination of sex chromosomes. Even kids can do this. (So they didn’t need to include “sex” in the list of protected grounds, because it’s already covered).
Each day, we learn more about how our genes influence us, both physically, and psychologically. And, combined with our Human Rights Act, this is going to be a legal revolution, and an ethical minefield. Lawyers are going to get very rich. I should have been one.
“It’s time to accept the recommendations of most climate scientists, and just leave the oil in the oil sands… ”
While I agree, that argument is irrelevant. The market has already ruled, and renewables are now cheaper. And they going to keep getting cheaper. Oil costs more, and will only ever increase in cost, while the selling price must plummet to compete with renewables.
Even oilmen can count to zero.
“In the early 1990s … Sarah watched … the Ottawa branches of the alt-right”
No, she did not. The alt-right didn’t even exist until 2016 or so. The very earliest anyone claims it was existed is 2010.
“Alt-right” is largely a label used by the left to tar anyone they disagree with. By lumping everyone together, and getting a big enough brush, you can paint everyone the same.
* apologize for 3:20 AM grammar. But you’ll admit it’s still pretty good for 3:20 AM.