Weekly Update: to

Here’s your Canadian Atheist Weekly Update for to .

[A photo of Donald Trump wearing a "Make America great again" hat.]
It shouldn’t be surprising that Christians are considering Donald Trump to be literally divine. It’s not like they have a good track record for who they choose to worship.
  • [] Citing ‘spiritual trauma,’ judge orders company to pay $25K for misrepresenting cake mix as kosher

    I’m going to have to spend a bit more time on this item than it really warrants, because there’s been a lot of misinformation about it going around, and some atheists have even sided with the cake mix manufacturer. The first point that needs to be clarified is that this was not a health and safety issue. It was a trademark issue. The cake mix manufacturer, Adee Flour Mills, was using the Kashruth Council of Canada’s trademarked logo without their permission. That’s it. Simple as that. There’s no atheistic argument for supporting what Adee did. In fact, what Adee did is straight-up fraud – they were nothing but a bunch of crooks. They used the Kashruth logo fraudulently, they refused to pay their dues, and they even lied about the ingredients of the cake mix, saying it was non-dairy when it had dairy in it. The second point that needs clarification is that this headline – like virtually all of the headlines about this case – is complete bullshit. It is insidiously deceptive; and I believe deliberately so, at least partially. Yes, it is technically correct in the naked facts: the judge did rule against Adee, the cake mix was fraudulently passed off as kosher, and the judge did cite “spiritual trauma”. But none of those facts are actually connected; at least not in the way the headlines imply. The judge did not rule against the company because the cake mix wasn’t kosher… it ruled against them for lying. It had nothing to do with the kosher angle – if the Adee had claimed the cake mix was made only be people named “Sam” when it was not, it would have been exactly the same problem: you can’t lie to sell shit. I mean, duh. And Adee is not a brave hero for doing that just because they lied to Jews, or because they lied about something that matters to their faith. A crook is a crook, and they don’t deserve atheist sympathy just because they’re preying on religious people. As for the “spiritual trauma” thing, yes, the judge did say that… but while I don’t have an actual copy of the ruling, everything I’ve read that provides context suggests to me that it had no actual bearing on the decision. It was probably just mentioned as an aside as part of a list of reasons why the plaintiffs deserve justice, as often happens. We can roll our eyes at the wording, but the fact remains that it was important to the plaintiffs, they took reasonable steps to ensure it, and they were defrauded by profiteering assholes; it doesn’t matter exactly what it was they wanted, whether that be spiritually-pure, rabbi-approved cake mix or cruelty-free, free-range eggs… they made clear requests, and the fraudsters didn’t hold up their end of the contract. It’s an open-and-shut case.

  • [] Influenza has killed 3 unvaccinated Sask. preschoolers so far this season: public health officials

    Over 1,700 confirmed cases – a low estimate. 14 intensive care visits. 3 deaths of preschoolers. All just in Saskatchewan, in 2018. Why? Turns out only 35% of kids under 2 are vaccinated, and only 19% of kids aged 5–8.

  • [] “#260 Fake-Ass Internet”(Audio: 39:29)

    This week, CANADALAND broke a story of fake news websites masquerading as the CBC, which is just another in a long line of recent news stories about deceptive journalism on the Internet. But it goes much, much deeper than that. This discussion between Jesse Brown and former Gawker editor Max Read is absolutely fascinating, pointing out the very real existential threat that “fakeness” on the Internet poses. It’s a much more important issue than you’d think.

  • [] “Stuck” by Zach Weinersmith (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)

    When Weinersmith is on his game, he is damn funny, and damn clever. This comic wasn’t even his funniest this week, though it was the only one really relevant to Canadian Atheist interests. But I highly recommend this brilliant bit of surreal, nihilistic humour.

  • [] Will 2019 be the year of white backlash in Canada?

    Not a comfortable question to consider, but one we need to ask. As Nerenberg notes, 2019 will not only see a federal election – which has already seen multiple conservative-leaning parties flirting with racism and bigotry – but also elections in Alberta, Newfoundland & Labrador, andPEI (not to mention the Northwest Territories, though that’s a little different since it’s a consensus government). I haven’t seen anyone particularly concerned about Newfoundland & Labrador, or PEI… but Alberta is probably going to be a steaming shit show, if what we’ve seen of the UCP so far is any indication. 2018 saw right wing parties winning every major election, though just squeaking by in most, so we can look forward to a concerted far right effort to continue the streak. And that could get very ugly.

  • [] Religious lifestyles for Catholic school teachers necessary ‘or there’s no reason for us to exist,’ says trustee rep

    I’m not even close to the first or only person to note just how close the Alberta Catholic School Trustees Association president came to self-awareness with this comment. My own position on the issue might surprise you. While I am not thrilled about the requirement that Catholic school teachers must be Catholic… I don’t actually dispute it. I may have to expand on that in a full article sometime, but very basically: I’m okay with Catholic schools requiring teachers to be Catholic. I am not okay with Catholic school boards dictating what kind of Catholic teachers should be. Put another way, I’m cool with requiring a baptismal certificate to work in a Catholic school… but once a teacher has that, they should be free to be as flamboyantly and fabulously gay as they please.

  • [] A neuroscientist explains why the belief that Trump is the messiah is rampant and dangerous

    This is an American story (obviously), but it bears discussing. If you’re like most people following the news about Trump, you have heard and perhaps even jokingly entertained the idea that Trump’s massive and enduring support by American Christians is based on the belief that he was sent by God. Turns out… that may be literally true. Not just in the half-serious or metaphorical sense that God sent him because he supports their causes (or at least pretends to?). They literally believe that God literally sent Trump to help/save/do stuff for them. They literally believe that Trump is a gift from God… which, I mean, does make a warped kind of sense when you consider God is the kind of deity that gives people cancer to bring them closer to him. But this is serious shit, and it’s because they sincerely and literally believe Trump was sent by God that they will continue to support him no matter what he does, no matter what the facts say. If this theory is true, it certainly goes a long way in explaining Trump and the insanity in the States right now.

  • [] Calgary Priest Malcolm Joe D’Souza Charged With Sexual Assault

    It horrifies me to say this, but what really struck me about this case was that it’s one of the very, very few I’ve ever seen where it looks like the case of a Catholic clergyperson who sexually abused one of their congregation is actually being treated the way it should be: The Diocese has apparently willingly cooperated with police. At least it looks that way so far.

  • [] Catholic school board changes mind, allows book depicting 2 boys kissing back in libraries

    Ironically, the book itself is named Drama. The gay relationship apparently isn’t even the central theme of the book, it’s just a side story.

  • [] “SIO176: Eli Bosnick on the Trial of Peter Boghossian”(Audio: 1:13:15)

    So if you’ve had your ear to the atheist blogosphere over the past month or so, you’ve probably heard the story how widely-respected atheist philosopher Peter Boghossian is being threatened with literally being tied to a literal stake and literally set on literal fire by his university… or at least that’s how he and his supporters put it. This story goes back to the “Grievance studies affair”, where Boghossian, James Lindsay, and Helen Pluckrose sent out 20 absurd, hoax papers almost 50 times to a bunch of journals – almost all in gender studies, some of them pay-to-publish journals (which they did pay for, despite their claims) – and got 4 published, including one that talked about rape culture among dogs and suggested putting men on leashes. The hoax was widely criticized as being poorly conceived, unethical, and ultimately pointless, not to mention an ideologically-based attack on certain fields of study rather than anything even remotely scientific. But then Boghossian’s university (Boghossian is the only one of the three hoaxers who actually has a professorship) put him under review for ethics violations, because he claimed (on-and-off) that this was an actual study… and if it was, then it was a study on humans, which always requires review by an ethics committee – especially when deception is involved. Cue the freak-out about witch hunts and censorship and… for fuck’s sake, Richard Dawkins was even quoting Orwell. Thomas Smith and Eli Bosnick have a characteristically hilarious discussion about the whole thing that’s really worth listening to.

  • [] No one likes paying student fees, but some campus clubs say axing them is a ‘direct attack’

    I mean, I think it’s pretty uncontroversial at this point that the far right, social conservative, anti-progressives of Ontario have a firm grasp on Doug Ford’s testicles, and are using him like a cheap, gross puppet. He’s not even trying to hide the fact anymore – I mean, for all the noise he made about needing consultation for the sex ed curriculum (which, in fact, the Liberals had gotten, the PCs did not get before scrapping it, and which, despite the PCs’ efforts to game the process, has come out overwhelmingly against the repeal), not to mention their laughable “for the people” slogan, the PCs are routinely completely ignoring popular opinion, and instead just serving their far right base. I mean, this very move was attempted before… and students voted against it. Now Ford has taken the choice out of their hands. And why? Because his far right base wanted that.

  • [] Ontario Government Axes Free Tuition For Low-Income Students

    In addition to stripping away the services students have on campus, Ford is also trying to make sure fewer low-income people can even go. It’s pretty obvious what his motivation is, but this is an issue we should be very concerned about, because the best tool for creating atheists is education.

  • [] Winnipeg-Based Think Tank Wants Scientists to Debate the Link Between Race and IQ

    What is it with right wingers telling scientists what they should and shouldn’t be studying? I really don’t get it. If they really do trust the process of science, why don’t they trust its results? Why do they feel the need to meddle in what is and isn’t being studied? And if they don’t trust the process, why are they so intent on interfering with it? I mean, if it’s such a broken system that its conclusions – such as that the “link” between race and IQ is complete bullshit – are just bullshit you don’t care about, what’s the point of manuplating with those conclusions? They’re either bullshit or they’re not… which is it?

  • [] Canada: Events of 2018

    This is the Canada chapter of the 2019 World Report by Human Rights Watch. We didn’t do badly, but the top concern was indigenous rights. Also prominently mentioned was the fact that we’re still selling tanks to Saudi Arabia.

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