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Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Too Many Books?

Tim Parks* wrote an intriguing essay in the New York Review of Books last week with that title. My first thought on seeing it was to wonder if one can ever have too many books. But of course, Parks – an author himself  – is looking at the bigger picture, not the ever-growing collection that […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Musical Sources

Trying learn a song from an old songbook or sheet music can be difficult unless you already know how the song goes. Many of our group are introduced to the music in our songbook only through my version when I play in at our meetings. And, I admit, my version may not always reflect the original […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Defining Classical Music

I listen to classical music a lot, even more than before since the arrival of the new classical FM station in Collingwood. But while my listening at home is through a selected collection of CDs, the content played on radio – internet radio included – is more eclectic. Airplay often includes soundtracks, music from musicals, even […]

Dead Wild Roses: How Equal Do We Want the World? – Dan Ariely

More than you’d think really. Human beings seem to intrinsically value fairness and equality and yet, as of today have constructed societies based on moving as far away as possible from any sort of equitable norm.

Take note of the piece on John Rawls and how using the Veil of Ignorance idea as a cognitive filter for making decisions. I think it is a great idea adding to the list of processes one should go through in making tough decisions in the personal, moral and political sphere.

Filed under: Culture, Education, Ethics Tagged: Dan Ariely, (Read more…)

Dead Wild Roses: Jonathan Zittrain – Wikipedia Works Well in Practice, Just Not In Theory

It is kind of amazing how Wikipedia manages to survive given all the anti-reality tendencies of the human race. Religion, extreme right and left politics – wikipedia manages to muddle through most of the time and present a version of truth that is mostly acceptable. More amazing is that the editors are more or less, like you and me.

Listen and watch Zittrain explain how the useful Wikipedia is and how it could be used in the future as a hands on tool for participatory citizenship.

Filed under: Culture, Technology and Computers Tagged: Jonathan Zittrain, Wikipedia

. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: Jonathan Zittrain – Wikipedia Works Well in Practice, Just Not In Theory

Dead Wild Roses: War On Drugs Still a Losing Battle

Why are drugs still illegal? I wrote a while ago about the success of Portugal, where all drugs were legalized, and the money previously used to enforce drug laws were instead used to fund social programs to help those with drug problems. Not only was Portugal’s drug abuse problem significantly reduced, but HIV and crime rates plummeted as well. It has been almost 15 years since Portugal started their non-prohibition experiment, with revolutionary results, and yet other countries still refuse to let go of their self-defeating War on Drugs.

I have recently read a fantastic interview with Johann Hari, on Sam (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month in Canada. I don’t know if this gets widespread acknowledgement much less appreciation among the public and in the schools, but it should. Poetry is an important part of our cultural lives, although it seems to me our collective passion for it has waned over the past few decades. I […]

Canadian Dimension: No One Is Free Until All Are Free

Illustration by Denitza Tchacarova

This column is adapted from a talk Chris Hedges gave Friday night at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia—The scourge of male violence against women will not end if we dismantle the forces of global capitalism. The scourge of male violence exists independently of capitalism, empire and colonialism. It is a separate evil. The fight to end male violence against women, part of a global struggle by women, must take primacy in our own struggle. Women and girls, especially those who are poor and of color, cannot take part in a liberation movement until (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bad Thinkers and the Unknown Knowns

I came across an interesting piece on bad thinking online recently. In it, the author argues some of the points I’ve mentioned in the past about people who believe in conspiracy theories, gossip and other online codswallop: The problem with conspiracy theorists is not, as the US legal scholar Cass Sunstein argues, that they have […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Reading Ukulele Tabs

One of the things I want to discuss in our upcoming CPLUG workshop is how to read tab sheet music. In this post I’ve give you some pointers so you can practice on your own. It’s worth learning to read tabs because it gives you the ability to play melodies and solo pieces without having […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Lucy and the 10% Brain Myth

We watched the film Lucy on iTunes last night and, while reasonably entertaining, its plot is founded on a persistent bit of pseudoscience: that people only use 10% of their brain capacity. It’s so widespread a myth that Wikipedia has a page on it that opens: The 10 percent of the brain myth is the widely perpetuated […]

Dead Wild Roses: Forced Birthers On the University of Alberta Campus

Well it had to happen sooner or later, the viciously anti-woman contingent of local forced birth brigade came to campus with their misleading fetus porn and all the lovely related argument for women to be incubators first and people second.

Thankfully the feminist and queer communities counter demonstrated to help push back some of the nonsense being spread.

Helpful hints for the local forced birth advocates.

Filed under: Canada, Culture, Feminism Tagged: Forced Birth Advocate Fail, Helpful Hints, Pro-Life Bullshit, Universtiy of Alberta

. . . → Read More: Dead Wild Roses: Forced Birthers On the University of Alberta Campus

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Revised Chord Wheel

I have revised my transposing chord wheel/circle of fifths tool this week. It is now a three-ring version for use by all musicians (ukulele players who want to learn music theory or work on arranging songs especially). You can click on the image on the right to download the PDF. The outer ring shows the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ukulele Festival Coming in May!

It’s official: the Canada Ukes ukulele festival will be held right around the corner from Collingwood: in Midland at the Midland Cultural Centre, May 22-24. Three days of ukuleleness, featuring Ralph Shaw, Stevie McNie (leader of Toronto’s Corktown Ukulele), The Skinnydippers and others. Performances, jams and workshops galore! Vendors, too. Early bird tickets for the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Why Elvis Matters to Collingwood

There are some things that are pointless to argue, it seems. Creationism with a fundamentalist. Anti-vaccination with a New Age wingnut. Reason and logic with local bloggers. The value of the Elvis Festival to Collingwood with a closed-minded resident. I recently heard complaints about the cost of the 2014 festival: $74,000. More than double what […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ukulele Workshop Today

I just returned from Orangeville where Broadway Music hosted a two-and-a-half hour musical workshop this Saturday by Manitoba Hal today (which will be followed by his concert tonight from 8-11 p.m. – try to attend, if you can: he’s very talented). Very informative and well worth attending. Interestingly, at least half the participants were my […]

Dead Wild Roses: Not All People Suck

Sometimes we need a reminder that the world isn’t the news, that mostly(sometimes?), we are good people who do kind things for each other.

Filed under: Culture Tagged: empathy and compassion, Humanity for the winz, people being people

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Bad News For Balderdash

A recent story on New Scientist gives a glimmer of hope for those of us who bemoan the swelling tsunami of claptrap and codswallop that fills the internet: THE internet is stuffed with garbage. Anti-vaccination websites make the front page of Google, and fact-free “news” stories spread like wildfire. Google has devised a fix – […]

Dead Wild Roses: The DWR Sunday Religious Disservice – The Judge and the Hijab

I’m always impressed with La Belle Province and her ability to serve up controversy. Recently a judge in Quebec decided that a hijab was considered not to be suitable attire for her courtroom and dismissed a case when the litigant refused to comply with her request. The judge’s words courtesy of the CBC:

“Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed. And I don’t see why scarves on the head would be either,” Marengo says in the recording.

“The same rules need to be applied to everyone. I will therefore not hear you if you are wearing (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Marx, Darwin and Machiavelli

What do these three men – three of the world’s greatest thinkers – have in common? Science? Economics? Politics? Their impact on culture and society? Their foresight or insight? Their importance to the development of modern thought? Their continued relevance today? The depth and breadth of their wisdom? The quality of their writing? Yes, they […]

Canadian Dimension: ‘Pornography Is What the End of the World Looks Like’

Bacchanal with a wine vat (c. 1475) by Andrea Mantegna

BOSTON—Fifty Shades of Grey, the book and the movie, is a celebration of the sadism that dominates nearly every aspect of American culture and lies at the core of pornography and global capitalism. It glorifies our dehumanization of women. It champions a world devoid of compassion, empathy and love. It eroticizes hypermasculine power that carries out the abuse, degradation, humiliation and torture of women whose personalities have been removed, whose only desire is to debase themselves in the service of male lust. The film, like American Sniper, unquestioningly (Read more…)

Canadian Dimension: “We the North” and the “Marketing of Blackness”

The Raptors are hot. Toronto’s professional basketball team sits atop the Eastern Conference and are arguably the NBA’s most exciting team to watch. But on-court swagger has been paired with slick re-branding, the centerpiece of which is the “We The North” campaign.

The campaign’s lead commercial intersperses Raptors’ highlight-reel dunks with shots of amateur ballers — primarily young black men — on street blacktops and gyms. Some of the city’s racialized, working class neighbourhoods — Jane-Finch, Regent Park, St. James Town — act as backdrop. There are graffitied walls, tattooed (black) bodies, and imposing apartment blocks. According to Raptors’ exec, (Read more…)

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Happy Talk

A recent study proved an old notion – the Pollyanna Hypothesis – that there is a “universal human tendency to ‘look on and talk about the bright side of life’” according to a team of scientists at the University of Vermont. The story was reported on Science Daily recently. Reading through newspapers, magazines, websites, music lyrics and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Weaponized Aryan Jesus?

The term “weaponized Jesus” comes from an article I read on politicsusa.com, from November 2013, titled “The Religious Right With Their Weaponized Jesus Are Not Christians.” It’s worth a read, if you enjoy the political-religious debate. I eventually traced the phrase back to a 2010 story in Mother Jones. It’s a good description of the way […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Internet TV and Roku

I picked up a ROKU streaming stick this weekend at the local Staples store to get access to some internet TV. The box advertises 500+ channels, while the boxes for the upscale models 2 and 3 offer 450+ and 1,000+, respectively. However, the official webpage for Roku says you can get more than 1,800 channels in the US […]