All posts filed under: Commentary

Peterson Derangement Syndrome

Someday “Peterson Derangement Syndrome” will be cited in the DSM as a peculiarly virulent social contagion which did not affect ordinary people, but which left-leaning intellectuals, lacking immunity, succumbed to in droves. – Barbara Kay of the National Post – Dr. Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Toronto, speaks in Calgary tonight at the Jack Singer Concert Hall. Peterson, the author of the book 12 Rules for Life,  made headlines in 2016 when he opposed Bill C-16 (which affords transgender people the freedom from discrimination under the Criminal Code). His opposition was not to the rights of transgender people. He saw the language part of the Bill as an extension of a campus culture that he believes is controlled by “social justice warrior, left-wing radical political activists.”  He saw the potential  of being charged with a hate crime or running afoul of the Ontario Human Rights code if people failed to use a transgender person’s self identified pronoun. Cathy Newman : “You got into trouble for refusing to call trans-men and -women by …

The Dark Side of Group Loyalty

If you are promoting the value of loyalty, it may be that you need to promote other values at the same time, like fairness and integrity. As effective as loyalty can be in promoting other positive behaviors, Loyalty in isolation can be a dark thing. – Angus Hildreth’s comments, Group Loyalty – The Information Age has given us access to incredible amounts of data and opinion, but also vast numbers of Biased Reports and False Narratives… and an Uncivil Outrage that is triggered when people are unwilling to look beyond the easy facade of their Loyalty and Bias. How culpable are politicians and the media in stirring the flames of anger? What is the role of Social Media?  How do YOU know when mountains of bias are covering a more accurate truth? Here are just a few ideas that could help you to be more informed and less manipulated. Be Cautious of Statistics The Four M’s of Statistics –  they can be Manipulated, Mismanaged, Misrepresented and Massaged by officials and other groups to promote their …

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Yikes! We’ve got Americans!

Americans Worried about Russian Interference According to a CNN poll in 2018, nearly 3/4 of Americans are worried about foreign (Russian) interference in United States elections. Ironic, then, that powerful American interests are meddling in Canadian affairs! Yikes We’ve got Americans! Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States, recently visited Canada’s eastern province of Ontario, and spoke out on behalf of the Liberal Premier’s ‘Cap and Trade’ system: “I don’t want to interfere in your politics but I have to speak out when I see all of the candidates in the other party proposing to go backwards…” (Ontario’s Liberal Government was defeated in a provincial election on June 7th.) Mr. Gore has also expressed his displeasure with the KM (Kinder Morgan) Transmountain pipeline, which is a Canadian expansion project (from Alberta to the British Columbia coast) that, after a 29-month review, was approved by the National Energy Board (NEB) and the Canadian Government (November 29, 2016). (Protests and lawsuits continue to delay the construction). Fossil fuels are subsidized 38x more than renewables globally. Now …

This is my Crone Voice

On one of my recent ‘wanderings’ I came across the word ‘Crone’ or more specifically, the Crone Archetype. Initially, I had a not so pleasant vision of a ‘Crone’, but further reading made me realize that some might say I AM a Crone! Perhaps you are too. (If you are a man, then your corresponding Archetype would be Sage.) If you are a woman of a certain mature age, have abandoned the need for ‘properness’, are up front, and don’t mince your words – you might be a Crone. If you are seen as a being a straight talking mentor, occasionally a trifle crabby  and perhaps even  a bit flirtatious and sassy – you might be a Crone. If you have found an inner peace and accept who you are; if you are realistic and have practical expectations – you might be a crone. I ticked off a lot of the ‘You might be a Crone’ boxes. When I reviewed the content of my blog, my ‘Crone Voice’ was evident in so many of the …

The Internet is Watching You

Hello! Is this Gordon’s Pizza? Google: No sir, it’s Google’s Pizza. Did I dial the wrong number? Google: No sir, Google bought the pizza store. Oh, alright – then I’d like to place an order please. Google: Okay sir, do you want the usual? The usual? You know what my usual is? Google: According to the caller ID, the last 15 times you’ve ordered a 12-slice with double-cheese, sausage, and thick crust. Okay – that’s what I want this time too. Google: May I suggest that this time you order an 8-slice with ricotta, arugula, and tomato instead? No, I hate vegetables. Google: But your cholesterol is not good. How do you know? Google: Through the subscriber’s guide. We have the results of your blood tests for the last 7 years. Maybe so, but I don’t want the pizza you suggest – I already take medicine for high cholesterol. Google: But you haven’t taken the medicine regularly. 4 months ago you purchased from Drugsale Network a box of only 30 tablets. I bought more from …

The Upside to Absent-mindedness

For some reason there is a malfunction, some disconnect, between my imaginary hello and, well, my actual hello… Just know this: if you have ever passed me in the hall and I appeared to ignore you, it actually wasn’t like that at all… – Stuart McLean, The Vinyl Cafe Notebooks – An imaginary hello. Yes, that describes the greeting I sometimes don’t give. It’s caused (they say) by a condition called absent-mindedness (also spelled  absentmindedness or absent mindedness.) Often, I don’t even know that I’m being absent-minded. On other occasions, it is quite apparent: I search for my glasses and find them on the top of my head or I walk into a room but forget what I came there to do. I don’t think it is something to be stressed about. On the whole, my memory usually runs fairly smoothly and  I’m fairly adept at focusing when I need to. I see the shift into absent-mindedness as something that sets me free to think in abstract or creative ways – (that’s my story, and …

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Land of the Left – Santa is Being Relocated

Here in the ‘Land of the Left’ (Canada) our Government is attempting to cut our 1.69% of the world’s Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Though our emissions are as you would expect for one of the coldest, largest countries in the world, our Federal Government is doing everything it can to let the world know they simply don’t want warmer winters (the season that has experienced the most warming in Canada). Our government is even willing to sacrifice the ‘North Pole is Santa’s home fable’ in order to advance their cause. They published this document on its Policy Horizons website this past December: Is it Satire? An attempt at humour? Virtue signalling?  Whatever it is, it misrepresents the basic facts about the North Pole (which isn’t on a land mass) but is a location in the Arctic Ocean where the water is usually covered with drifting ice 6 to 10 feet (1.8 to 3 m) thick and where the annual mean temperature in the winter is minus 40F (minus 40 C). Does the Canadian Government really …

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Increase Your Chances of Being Right

In “post-fact culture”, where rationality seems to vanish in the storms of lies and conspiracy theories, beliefs about the future are crucial. – Gapminder Data System – Are you smarter than a chimp? Watch this funny, entertaining and encouraging video to see how your knowledge compares to the chimps at the zoo. How much do you know about the world? Hans Rosling, with his famous charts of global population, health and income data (and an extra-extra-long pointer), demonstrates that you have a high statistical chance of being quite wrong about what you think you know. Play along with his audience quiz — then, from Hans’ son Ola, learn 4 ways to quickly get less ignorant. – TED Talk by the Gapminder Founders – What facts surprised you or made you think more positively about the future of the world?

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Wrongology

Wrongology – the study of what is ‘not right’ – not in conformity with fact or truth, not required, not intended, not fitting, not suitable, not appropriate; deliberately misleading. I made this definition up for a word that is not in the dictionary. There is, however, an interesting TED talk by “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz who explains why we should admit and embrace our fallibility. (She also wrote a book: Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.) Kathyrn points out that the state of being wrong often feels exactly the same as being right. We feel good, (though we are puzzled as to why others don’t agree with us). We don’t attempt to understand why others disagree because if we are wrong, we won’t feel so good. It is incredibly easy to be wrong in the age of biased mass media. I read a report last week that criticized our Canadian Prime Minister’s fiscal priorities  when he responded  to a disabled veteran at a Town Hall Meeting: “I was prepared to be killed in action,” …

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When Do You ‘Put Your Affairs in Order’?

Unless your Doctor has given you notice that your ‘Best Before Date’ is rapidly closing in on your ‘Expiry Date’, you might not have thought about the most important thing you can do for yourself now AND leave for your loved ones when you depart this world. This important thing costs no more than a sheet or two of paper, but it is priceless. It is a List of All the Things you know now – but might not remember later. It is a list of things the Executor of your Estate won’t know until they have rifled through your desk, file cabinet and all sorts of places obvious and obscure – so that they can wrap up your estate and deliver it to your rightful heirs. Think about this: Do you keep your documents in obvious locations like your desk, file cabinet or a shoe box under the bed? Does your family know you also stash important papers in a fake cabbage (or lettuce) in the fridge, a former box for fish cakes in …

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The Silent ‘M’

English has 13 letters that are, at times, silent. A ‘B’ might as well disappear when it is at the end of a word if it follows an ‘M’. ‘C’ is not pronounced in the ending ‘scle.’ ‘D’ disappears in handkerchief. E, G, GH, H, K, L, N, P, S, T, U and W may also be silent on occasion. Readers should also be aware that when a media campaign tries to generate mass hysteria, based on nothing but purposefully vague and unsubstantiated claims, the ‘M’ in ‘Masses’ can also be silent. Social media makes it incredibly easy to spread false or misleading information. Facebook’s algorithm, which tends to only show users content they agree with, makes the company complicit in spreading falsehoods. That feeds into people only seeing particular viewpoints or sources, which allows for these kinds of sites to be circulated with much more frequency.  Facebook needs to create a “check this source bar” that would display information about a story’s origin. We have to remove the barrier for people to fact-check what …

Do You Love the Skin You’re In?

Did you see the unretouched photo of actress Jamie Lee Curtis in 2002?  It was taken when she was 43 years old. Jamie insisted the photographer, Andrew Eccles,  shoot her with no makeup, no manicure, no hair styling – wearing only an exercise bra and underwear. She did not want the photo altered in any way. She said this was her contribution to stopping the Hollywood Myth of what women are supposed to look like. Of course, it isn’t just Hollywood that contributes to the myth. There is a Beauty Industry  with products and advertising to tell us how to make our hair, skin, teeth and clothes conform to some standard of beauty;  a Weight Loss Industry that tells us we are too fat; a Cosmetic Surgery Industry to turn back the hands of time, and an Exercise Industry that is often advertised as a way to improve our looks. How big is the  ‘Myth of Perfection’ Industry? The Global Beauty Market (hair care, skin care, cosmetics, fragrances) is expected to reach $265 billion in …

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Algorithms – Do They Have a Hidden Agenda?

When you ask Google or Bing or Duck Duck Go to find something for you, how does ‘it’ filter the results? How do advertisers, retailers and financial markets make  decisions on what product to offer you? How do banks decide who to offer a loan or a bank card to? How do insurance companies determine how to assess risk and set prices? How do employers and dating sites use personality tests to find matches? The answer is, they use Algorithms! An Algorithm is a set of detailed instructions that are fed into a computer program to deliver a result, or set of results from the information that it is given. On the internet, Algorithms determine what we see first, or most. For example, when I input the letters ‘do’  into Google search, the autocomplete algorithm suggests ‘donald trump, ‘dominos’ and ‘donald trump news’. The search engine Duck Duck Go  and Yahoo suggest ‘domino’s pizza’, ‘dorothea hurley bongiovi’ and ‘donald trump’. Bing suggests ‘domino s’, download chrome’ and ‘download google chrome’ before getting to ‘donald trump …

Satire, Fake News and Bias

A recent piece of satire from a The Out And Abouter is called Concerned, But Not Wanting To Offend, Canada Quietly Plants Privacy Hedge Along Entire U.S. Border. “And we’re happy to pay for it,” say a united front of Canadian premiers, national leaders, mayors, citizens, and casual acquaintances, of the newly planted hedge that has sprung up seemingly overnight, running unbroken for 6,416 kilometers, along the world’s longest undefended border. – The Out and Abouter, January 2017 – Snopes, the fact checking site, has clarified that the story is False but points out that the Author of the site clearly states that he/she writes Satirical Commentary. The Message from the Queen – Revoking American Independence was satire too, though the name of the original author remains elusive. …the aim of satire shouldn’t be about fooling people; it should be about making them laugh. “We’re always looking at our headlines and thinking, ‘Could someone actually believe this?’” he says. “And if it does [seem believable], then we haven’t done our job properly.” – Rhodri Marsden, …

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The Political Temper Tantrum – Needless Violence in the Wake of the Trump Election

November marked my 7th Anniversary of blogging. This is post turned out to be one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written. I’m mesmerized by the American election, and can’t seem to move on until I’ve digested what happened! I’m not an American, but I have strong ties to both my American friends and a community in Arizona (where I spend the winter.) Then there is the not insignificant influence that the United States has on my country, Canada.  Research associate Simon Palamar  explained this relationship by saying “We’re sleeping next to an elephant, so when they shift in bed, we feel it.” If I had been an American voter, and a Republican, I don’t know if I could have voted for Donald Trump. Of course, the same thing can be said about the Democrats and Clinton. Neither candidate seemed particularly worthy if you believed everything the media reported. Watching the election night coverage on three different stations felt a bit like an indoctrination into why I should have got a college education (so I …

He said, “I Don’t Want the Chicken”

I’m helping my Dad downsize. He will probably be moving to smaller living quarters in the not too distant future. The ‘weeding’ process isn’t easy for him. He has a strong attachment to just about everything old in his apartment. His bonds to the distant past grow stronger, as the memories of the near past fade. If he is willing to let me remove anything, it is only because he is very certain that a family member will take ownership of the item and treasure it as much as he does. Everything I have carted off so far is now safely stored in The Car Guys Garage, pending resettlement somewhere. The pile is fluid. Some of the things I put there last week must now go back to Dad’s place – a change of heart and mind. As I was getting ready to haul another load down to my car yesterday, he suddenly said, “Take the chicken. I really don’t want that chicken.” That surprised me. The chicken, (more accurately a Portuguese Good Luck Rooster, …

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Over the Top Writing Makes me do Just the Opposite

You’ve probably seen some of these ‘over the top’ words in Post Titles on the internet. They are supposed to be so enticing that you will click through to read the story. Here are some of the most common superlatives: Utterly Strangest Outrageous Amazing Groundbreaking Truth Astonishing Incredible Bombshell Awesomely Stunning Unbelievable (or You Won’t Believe Your Eyes) Insanely Gorgeous Impossible Absolutely Unbeatable You’ll Never Guess Ridiculous or Jaw Dropping for stories, that will Blow you away Be to Die For Take Your Breath Away Change Your World Freak You Out because well, OMG – This is Genius!!! This style of writing has just the opposite effect on me – I simply refuse to click through to read it. Just this once, though, I’m going to use words from the list above to describe my photos for this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge (which is Opposites.) These photos were taken on a trip to the Hawaiian Islands. OMG! The scenery was to die for! My jaw dropped as I watched the waves crash onto the rocks. …

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When All the Presidential Candidates Stink – Call Canada!

What could be worse for a creaky, cancerous political system than what the Democratic and Republican parties are brewing up? Nothing really. This is as bad as it gets… First: Do I even bother to vote? For those who do cast a ballot, there is the even sadder choice: Which candidate do I loathe the least? – Ron Fournier, The Atlantic – The ‘Any One But’ vote – in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll on American voter preferences, nearly half (47 percent) of those who said they’d support Trump said it was because they don’t want Hillary Clinton to win. Nearly half (46 percent) of those who said they’d vote for Clinton said it was because they don’t want Trump to win. Maybe this will be the year that the American people decide neither of these candidates is fit to be President. There are several alternatives! Here is the link to the My Time to Vote Website. It lists Third Party, Unaffiliated, Write-In and Independent Candidates (in addition to Republican and Democratic Party Candidates other than …

burned sticks

‘Unseasonable’ Weather, Climate Change and Forest Fires

What causes ‘unseasonable’ weather? According to this report in ‘theguardian’, unseasonably warm weather is an indication of climate change: April 28, 2016, Australia – “Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists.” But what causes unseasonably cold weather – like this snow in the UK? April 26, 2016, Britain – “Snow stops play at cricket matches in the south as Britain suffers unseasonable late April cold snap.” – The Telegraph – ‘The Telegraph’ did not attribute this colder weather to Climate Change (which generally means Global Warming and refers to warmth, droughts, fire, floods, melting, etc.) Instead, The Telegraph offered this tongue-in-cheek explanation: Some (twitters) suggested the arctic conditions were a gift from the late popstar Prince, alluding to the lyrics of his song ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’. Are you as tired of the term ‘Climate Change’ as I am? I blame the media for that. Weather (which is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region and its short-term -minutes to weeks- variations) is being reported like it is …

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Media Bias and Knowledge – The Truth is Out There

There are things I know I know. And things I think I know – but don’t. Things I know I don’t know. And things I don’t know that I don’t know. The Truth, for me, is a moving target! I think it is safe to say that my blogging days would have ended several years ago if I had stuck to writing about things ‘I know I know’! ‘Shopping’ for things I don’t know is why it takes me so long to write a blog post. I look for facts and arguments, then test them to see if they are congruent, consistent, coherent, and useful truths. Mark Twain once said that “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Thanks to the internet, this observation is more applicable now than it has ever been. Traditional news media has been supplemented with a vast array of online media sources and opinion journalism. The pressure to produce reactions and opinions at a greater and greater speed has resulted …