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Scripturient: Time of Use Billing

Until I sold my business, a few years ago, and started working from home again, I didn’t realize how much of an aggressive assault on many Ontarians – especially seniors and stay-at-home parents – our hydro time-of-use (TOU) billing is. I had a naïve belief that it was fair. A user-pay balance. A tool to encourage […]

Scripturient: The Continued Rise of Anti-Intellectualism

I dream of a world where the truth is what shapes people’s politics, rather than politics shaping what people think is true. Neil deGrasse Tyson on Twitter* Anti-intellectualism Is Killing America, says the headline in this recent Psychology Today story. The subtitle reads: Social dysfunction can be traced to the abandonment of reason. I wrote about anti-intellectualism as […]

Scripturient: Conrad Black: Wrong on Religion, Again

Atheists renounce and abstain from religions; they don’t reform them. So said Conrad Black in a recent National Post column. Black seems to be increasingly theological in his writing; perhaps he has had some sort of epiphany in prison. If so, it seems to be pushing him towards a Pauline-style intolerance and exclusivity, religiously speaking. […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Fishy Thoughts

Canadians, the headline reads, now have shorter attention span than goldfish thanks to portable devices. The story in today’s National Post underscores a growing problem that is fuelled by technology: our dwindling attention spans. The Microsoft study of 2,000 Canadians found our collective attention span has dwindled to a mere eight seconds, down from an […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Ontario’s Sex Education

As Frank Zappa sang in his 1968 song, What’s The Ugliest Part Of Your Body?: What’s the ugliest Part of your body? What’s the ugliest Part of your body? Some say your nose Some say your toes I think it’s your mind, your mind, I think it’s YOUR MIND, woo woo I’m not a fan […]

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 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Responsibility of Free Speech

In January, 2015, Marie Snyder, on her blog, A Puff of Absurdity, raised the question of how free should speech be. I share her concerns about the apparent limitlessness of our rights: our right to free speech is not matched to any inherent responsibilities, civic or moral, to behave in a mature manner, nor does […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Bully Pulpit

“I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!” US President Theodore Roosevelt uttered those words in office (reported in the February 27, 1909, issue of The Outlook magazine), coining the phrase ‘bully pulpit’ in referring to the presidency as an ideal platform from which to expound his […]

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: Manufactured Terror: Bill C51

Stephen Harper wants you to be afraid. VERY afraid. If you’re frightened, you likely won’t question his and his party’s destruction of the country, the decaying economy, job losses, homelessness, the ignored murder of aboriginal women, the muffled and cowed bureaucracy, hobbling the CBC, undermining Canadian science and scientists, and our waning credibility on 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: 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 – […]

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 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Facebook, Likes and Big Data

I suppose you could call it ironic. There was a story from a ‘friend’ on my Facebook news feed today called “Quitting the Like” all about escaping Facebook’s data collection processes by simply not “liking” items or comments you see. Right below this ostensibly anti-Facebook story were three related links produced by one of the […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness can be a difficult read. Not just for its brooding setting and the sense of morbid inevitability. Conrad’s semi-autobiographical 1899 novel is replete with racism and breezy colonialism: the insufferable superiority of white, Western culture. The casual ability of so-called civilized men to commit savagery in the name of some higher cause is clearly […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Robocalls from Real Robots

“mmm…buzzz…. click…. This is your friendly….buzzz…. automated calling device…click…hummmm… reminding you that….mmmm….buzzz…..click… there are only three days left to…. zzzzz…. take advantage of the Black Friday sales at…. mmmm…. buzzzz….. your…. zzzz… Collingwood…..insert box store name…. mmmm…buzzz…. click….thank you…” Well, maybe robotic telemarketers won’t sound like the solenoid robots on Roger Ramjet, but within the decade, […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Rights Without Responsibility

“Why do online spaces often feel so fractious?” asks Helen Lewis in a thought-provoking opinion piece in The Guardian last week. It’s something I’ve been pondering for many years. It’s not just the internet, or even social media, nor is it our increasingly uncivil and impolite society: it’s the technology that seems to be dividing […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Saying Happy Holidays is Acceptable

This time of year we get inundated on Facebook and Twitter with this sort of stupid, offensive warning about saying “happy holidays” or “season’s greetings” instead of Merry Christmas. A couple of these appeared in a few hours just today, and there will be more, no doubt. Sorry, but it’s just xenophobic hogwash; an uncomfortably fundamentalist and […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

This is your brain on drugs. Or rather, the right-hand image is your brain on psilocybin. The other side is your brain on a non-psychedelic drug. Researchers recently discovered some amazing facts about how our brains work on some chemicals. And some psychedelic drugs prove to have pretty amazing effects. But don’t try this at […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: The Ebola Panic

Ebola has gripped the imagination of North American media and been spun into a terrifying spectre looming like a horseman of the apocalypse over us. So widespread has it become that Jenny McCarthy, one of the top wingnuts of quackery and pseudomedicine, and poster girl for the pro-measles-pro-mumps parents, felt compelled to pipe up with her […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: “A” Personalities: A Theory

When someone tells me he is an “A-type” personality, I cannot help but think of the title of Aaron James’ bestselling book: Assholes *A Theory (Anchor Books, New York, 2014). After all, what else would the “A” stand for when someone boasts to the audience he is an alpha male as if the rest of […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Is the Internet making us stupid? Or just shallow?

In my never-ending search for some bit of knowledge one day, during a mix-and-match of search engine terms while looking for classical writers’ views on death and dying, I stumbled onto what might have been an off-kilter New Age site, OM Times, or more likely, a parody of the genre. On the page titled “8 […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Our gawker culture

Suddenly the Net lit up with headlines news: celebrity nude photos leaked! Videos too! Facebook timelines were replete with media stories. Shock. Horror. Voyeurism. Click, click, click the viewers racked up the view count as they raced to the sites just in case they actually showed something. A little flesh to feed our insatiable desire […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Classical music matters even more today

The official launch of the new Classical FM 102.9 radio station in Collingwood this past weekend reminded me of my own past history with classical music, but also why it matters so much to have classical music in our lives. And why we need to keep that cultural lifeline to our musical past alive and active. Classical […]

Scripturient: Blog & Commentary: Sex, violence and TV shows

We just finished watching the third season of Game of Thrones on DVD this past weekend. Before that, we watched The White Queen, another DVD series (one season only, although it deserved more). As we watched both, I found myself wondering why directors and producers felt the need to insert gratuitous – but apparently obligatory […]