Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The dangerous idiocy of the anti-vax movement

Measles is on the rise in Canada. There have already been many cases in 2014: in PEI, London, Ottawa, southern Alberta, Regina, Qu’Apelle, Calgary, Fraser Valley (320 cases), Hamilton, Halton, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Waterloo, Nanaimo and other locations. Eleven cases in Ontario this year alone. Nine in Alberta. That ancient, deadly foe we recently believed we […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Is this the end of the gluten-free fad?

  Last November, when I first wrote about the gluten-free diet fad, I bemoaned how an everyday protein, a staple in human diets for many millennia, had become demonized by the diet fad crowd. In fact, the gluten-free fad rapidly grew into a multi-million-dollar industry in Canada to accommodate that vulnerable intersection of consumer fears […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The ethics of politics via Aristotle

Politics, Aristotle wrote in the Nicomachean Ethics, is the “master science of the good.” The good of which he wrote is the greater good, the “highest good” that benefits the state, not the personal. For even if the good is the same for the individual and the state, the good of the state clearly is […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading: A Canadian tragedy… or not?

The map above might show the making of a serious tragedy for Western and especially Canadian culture. It indicates in colour which nations read the most. Yellow is the second lowest group. Canada is coloured yellow. In this survey, Canada ranks 10th – from the bottom! Twenty countries above us have populations which, on the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Time to get serious with distracted drivers

In March, the fine for being caught texting, talking on your cell phone, or tinkering with your MP3 player while driving will jump from $155 to $280 in Ontario. That’s better, but not good enough. Distracted drivers are a growing threat to everyone sharing the road – other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. We are all […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lucretius and the Renaissance

It’s fairly clear, even after reading only a few verses, why Lucretius’s didactic poem, On the Nature of Things – De Rerum Natura – made such an impact on thought, philosophy, religion and science in the Renaissance. It must have been like a lighthouse in the dark night; a “Eureka” moment for many of the age’s thinkers. […]

Dead Wild Roses: Bread and Circuses

Not owning a television is one of the best decisions TIO and I made. Well, we do have a TV but no cable so we can watch the occasional DVD if we so desire. What the media focuses on and what is important is often two very different sets of ideas. There are multiple cases of human suffering and abuse going on in the world at any given time; but often we are inundated with the very important happenings of celebrities and the random piffle they do as a substitute for what is actually happening in the (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Feb. 12: Happy Darwin Day

February 12 is international Darwin Day, the day when we collectively celebrate science and reason. And, of course, we recognize Charles Darwin’s birthday: February 12, 1809 (the same birthdate as Abraham Lincoln, by the way). If Collingwood made such declarations, I would propose we recognize the day in our municipality. Other Canadian municipalities have done […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Debunking the Adam Bridge

    A story popped up on the internet in late 2013, recycled in early 2014, claiming “NASA Images Find 1.7 Million Year Old Man-Made Bridge.” Claptrap. It’s not a bridge. It’s simply a natural tombolo: “a deposition landform in which an island is attached to the mainland by a narrow piece of land such […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Running for re-election in 2014

Earlier this month, I filed my nomination papers for municipal council. I am running for a fourth term as Collingwood councillor. I will post a new election website with updated information and campaign content later this winter. I would appreciate your support, your trust and your vote. I believe I have earned them during my […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Crossing the line

There’s a story on ipolitics that in part echoes my own thoughts about media and responsibility. Yet the author draws different conclusions than I believe I would have, were I still in the media. It’s called “Paul Calandra and the tale of the naked senator” and it’s written by Paul Adams. Worth reading regardless of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: 2014 predictions always good for a giggle

I had barely finished writing my post on the failed 2013 predictions of the self-described “psychics” and “clairvoyants” who are the media darlings du jour, when the sorry lot of charlatans published their latest lot of flim-flammery and codswallop: predictions for 2014. These will, of course, prove as wrong as the predictions for 2013. And […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: To err is human. And bureaucratic.

Errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum, et tertium non datur. To err is human; to persevere in error is diabolical; there is no third option. Bit of a tough love phrase, that one. Most of us know this as the later paraphrase of Alexander Pope: to err is humane, to forgive divine. Yes, he wrote “humane” […]

Politics and its Discontents: Narrowcasting And The Internet

Narrowcasting can be defined as the process of aiming a radio or TV program or programming at a specific, limited audience or consumer market. While it is a term that is applied to traditional media, Noah Richler suggests in an interesting article in today’s Star that increasingly, the Internet, by the choices people make, is quickly becoming a medium that is narrowing, not expanding, our capacity for critical thought.

While his article perhaps does not constitute a fresh insight, Richler points out that we are becoming increasingly susceptible to what he calls the tyranny of measurement, our propensity toward (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Psychics 2013: the silly, the scams, the failed predictions

Action News, an ABC affiliate, ran a late-year story with the headline “Psychics interpret pets’ thoughts.” No, it’s not April Fools’ Day: this was December 26. Yet the reporter treated it seriously; just like it was a real story; actual news, rather than a steaming heap of superstitious dung. That reporters for any media outlet […]

Politics and its Discontents: Tory Policy-Making: The Dangers Of Simplistic Thinking

Fallacies of reasoning are easy traps to fall into. Whether it is absolutist thinking, straw man arguments or any number of other errors of thought, we are all prone to them, and I am sure that I am no exception. Our best defense against such faulty thinking is to try to cultivate our critical faculties as much as we can; one of the best ways of doing so is to read widely and deeply. There is no alternative, unless wants to make a virtue of simplistic and lazy cognition.

The latter, of course, is what the Harper regime has excelled (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Gluten, Sourdough, Fads and Ailments

Gluten, that everyday protein found in many grains, has become the health-fad followers’ most recent evil spectre, and many (one in three, stats show) have jumped onto the anti-gluten bandwagon, generally with a simplistic message: “gluten bad.” Like most diet fads, I expect it will likely fall off centre stage when the next Big Thing […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bread, Madness and Christianity

The witch craze of Europe is a popular, albeit often misrepresented, part of our collective history. Everyone knows witches were hunted, tortured and often killed – burned at the stake, a particularly repulsive method of murder. While not a uniquely Christian form of killing, it was practiced widely by Christians throughout history in every European […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: All the King’s Horses and All the King’s Men

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men Couldn’t put Humpty together again. That children’s nursery rhyme says a lot about the situation Toronto Mayor Rob Ford finds himself in, following the release of police reports, yesterday. The mayor is in, to […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Burning Books, Burning Bibles

Pastor Marc Grizzard, of Amazing Grace Baptist Church in Canton, NC is back in the news this week, but I’m not really sure if it’s because of something he did or something that was dredged up online from a few years back and has just been regurgitated. This week, a story in The Telegraph about Grizzard resurfaced […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Anti-Intellectualism: The New Elitism

There’s a growing – and disturbing – trend in modern culture: anti-intellectual elitism. The dismissal of art, science, culture, philosophy, of rhetoric and debate, of literature and poetry, and their replacement by entertainment, spectacle, self-righteous self ignorance, and deliberate gullibility. These are usually followed by vituperative ridicule and angry caterwauling when anyone challenges the populist […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Words, words, words

Writing before the arrival of the internet*, Bob Blackburn commented on the nature of exchange on then-prevalent BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), words that could as easily be written today about the internet: “…the BBS medium reveals not only a widespread inability to use English as a means of communication but also a widespread ignorance of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: We are Stardust… and Viral Genes

In her classic song, Woodstock, Joni Mitchell ended with the chorus: We are stardust Billion-year-old carbon We are golden Caught in the devil’s bargain And we’ve got to get ourselves Back to the garden Which most people assume is merely poetic licence. Well, Joni wasn’t wrong: we – and every living thing on our planet […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Why Creationists Don’t Win the Nobel Prize

Looking at the list of Nobel prizes awarded in 2013 for science, we see three prestigious entries: The Nobel Prize in Physics 2013 François Englert and Peter W. Higgs “For the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Why do so few Canadians get a flu shot?

That’s the headline for a recent Toronto Star story. It suggests that as few as one third of Canadians get a flu vaccine, and in some place the number may be as low as 20 percent. This despite Ontario having the world’s first universal free flu shot program, introduced in 2000. The 2013-14 vaccine is […]