Proud to be Canadian: less discrimination

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Today’s a good day, still feeling good after Canada just passed the same-sex marriage law yesterday. It’s good to be from a country where discrimination and bigotry are on the decline. I can’t wait to move back…

Canadians want to move on from same-sex debate: PM

I saw a report that the Alberta PM wants to stop sancionting marriages, or something else stupid, in reaction to this. Ya know what? Let him do whatever the heck he wants. It’s Alberta and I don’t really care too much (being from Ontario, of course :) ).

Let them keep their oil. I’d rather keep my dignity.

What do you say when you’re praying for bigotry?

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Congrats to the Liberals in Canada as it looks like the same-sex marriage bill may pass this week. Even the conservatives know it’s going to pass.

Tories can’t win same-sex battle: MacKay

But one sentence in the article struck me as odd: “Opponents of same-sex unions held prayer vigils across the country on Sunday, the same day tens of thousands of people gathered in Toronto for the city’s annual Pride parade.”

What does someone say to their god when praying for discrimination? “Oh, please God, even though you gave these people the ability to choose their sexuality, and it doesn’t harm me, please punish them for making this choice. I think that’s what you really intended. I see lots of references in this book here about men marrying women, so the absense of same-sex marriage references leads me to believe you just forgot to mention it. Oh please! Smite these heathens!”

(By the way – I’m not trying to step into the choice/born with it argument here, I meant more to choose how to act on their sexuality.)

Good Bible references and political grandstanding

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Howard Dean was on the Daily Show. Whether you like him or not he did have an undeniably valid comment on the Republicans “values movement”: “The Bible mentions about 3000 times to help the poor. It mentions gays zero times.” And where are the Republicans focusing?

A report that came out calling the Air Force Academy campus rife with religious discrimination by the evangelical Christians. There was a Republican Congressman saying that “Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can’t help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians.” Hmmm. What country does this guy live in? Denigrating and demonizing Christians? Talking critically about Christianity is so far off of anyone in politics radar it’s obscene, and bad.

He also talked about a “long war on Christianity” in America. Again, Hmmm. Stewart had a great comment on this, to the effect of: “Oh, the persecution. If only America could have an openly Christian President! If only we could have 46 of them! Consecutively!”

GOP Congressman Calls Democrats Anti-Christian

Check out the article. This Republican is the same one who recently tried to take a gun on a public airplane, was charged and plead guilty.

Somebody has to do worse than average in the stock market

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Interesting article comparing actively managed funds vs. index funds. I like his point that index funds will essentially perform at the average and while say 50% of actively managed funds will do better than the market, 50% will need to do worse. That’s not entirely true as we might hope there are lots of stupid individuals doing stupid things, so maybe managed funds can do better than the total average.

The point being: don’t waste your money on a managed fund, just use an index fund.

Anyways, check it out: Index funds vs. active funds

Do people like communism?

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Interesting article: Why do people vote for communists?

The author is definitely biased, but it’s still a good read. I disagree with his fundamental hypothesis that people like communism because of fear of the responsibility required in a free society. I think it has more to do with the (promised) ideal that every one becomes equal, etc. Not saying anyone fulfilled this promise, though.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I also disagree with his assertion that communism is equal to totalitarianism. While I don’t think communism as it has been implemented so far has been a good thing, I can’t discount the possibility that a communist economic structure coupled with a democratic government wouldn’t be bad. What we’ve seen good evidence of so far is that Stalinism failed.

Could a communist structure with an elected government work? I don’t know. Obviously it would be hard, but if it were possible I think in general we’d be in a better position. This all supposes that people can get rid of their driving tendency towards greed. Is there any evidence to support this? Well, Cuba is an example of “something”, although it’s admittedly fuzzy. Cuba is doing fairly well under the circumstances, under a complete embargo from it’s large neighbour. Cuba does have a dictator, although obviously a much more benevolent one that Stalin. From my limited experience there people seem generally happy although obviously there’s a section of the population that craves the expensive material things available in the US. I didn’t meet anyone like this, but not sure what the ratio is.

Am I trying to use Cuba an an example of a “working” communist state? No, just a data point of one that is working better than Russia. It would be interesting to see what would happen if Cuba moved towards an elected government once Castro dies.

But the model shown by most of Europe with free markets and heavily socialist principles is probably the best answer for now.

How long will we let them rewrite history?

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The “religious right” in the US has for a long time now tried to rewrite history to show that this country was “founded by and for Christians.” As with a lot of causes put forward by this group, they’ve taken about 1 fact out of 100 related to the subject, that supports their hypothesis, and focused on that. They seem to forget that the “founding fathers” explicitely left religion out of the constitution. They seem to ignore all the quotes you can find showing the “founding fathers” may not even have considered themselves Christians at all. Look at these quotes: Quotes from the United States of America’s Founding Fathers

Let’s look at what’s really going on. Assume for a second that the “founding fathers” did in fact consider themselves Christians. Knowing that they explicitely left religion out of the constitution, what grounds can exist to declare that the US was “founded by and for Christians?” Would it simply be the fact that they were Christians, albeit bad or unwilling ones? To show how absurd this argument is, would anyone in this day and age declare that the US was “founded by and for White people?” I would think not, unless the person lives in certain isolated areas of the South (who also happens to think it’s a bad idea to apologize for lynchings), and most of the country would consider these people crazy. But what’s the difference? Both demographics (White and Christian) were 100% represented in the “founding fathers.”

The difference is that one of these statements is politically incorrect and one isn’t. One has the protection of having religious overtones, which is seemingly off-topic for criticism by any politician since they’re all cowards.

How long do you think it will be until kids textbooks teach this garbage? Actually, they probably already do…

The U.S. Nopt Founded Upon Christianity
The Founding Fathers were not Christians

I’d really like to hear any sane arguments trying to show that the US was in fact founded by and for Christians. I’m curious if there are any.

Hot Snakes: Audit In Progress

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I haven’t heard anything this innovative in a while. They’re definitely not mainstream rock but if you have a craving for something new check them out. It’s much more raw compared to the usual stuff.

They’re the evolution of a band called “Drive Like Jehu” who I like, but I had never gotten into as much as this album. They’ve still got the same style and principles of DLJ but they’ve wrapped it with “catchier” tunes to some extent.

The results are amazing. I can’t stop listening…

http://hotsnakes.com/

This is how they do it. Creationism begats creationism.

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Apparently a zoo in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been pressured into having a creationism display. Wonderful. Their new moto must be: “Wherever this is science, or even the allusion to science, we will force there to be Creationism.”

If I believed that babies come from storks and that electricity is made by tiny fairies can I get those views equally expressed by scientific institutions? I’d have the same grounds as Creationists (from a scientific point of view)

Zoo to feature creationism display

The death of scientific discourse

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This article is pretty extreme in it’s messaging, but I do think it brings up valid points. (While I personally don’t mind articles with such strong messaging on top of their discussion, I don’t think it helps promote debate among the opposing camps)

The valid point is that in today’s political climate in the US it’s becoming more and more “politically incorrect” for scientists to speak up. While creationism has many obvious holes from a scientific standpoint, scientists are unwilling to publically discuss this. It’s especially important right now as the “Intelligent Design” folks are pushing their faith-masked-as-facts into schools.

I’m not saying that Evolution doesn’t have holes, but those holes are debated in public to an extreme degree. Let’s give both the same treatment.

Creationism: God’s gift to the ignorant

Isn’t it great to be worth less than nothing?

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In another blow to human rights, the UK has decided it would be a great idea to extend copyright terms even longer. Why is this important? Copyright term limits were created so that society eventually gets to benefit as a whole from artistic work. Does it make sense that people 3 generations removed from an artist still get to benefit from their works? No. Society should be able to benefit from it.

This argument still makes sense. Almost everyone agrees with it. Except who? The corporations who hold the rights, of course. Since they have unlimited access to lawyers and lobbyists, and the rest of us don’t, they get their way. Disney, and others, do this all the time in the US.

This is proof of the indemic corruption in western democracies at its best. But, no one seems to care because the same companies extending the term limits control the media (ie: Disney + ABC, etc) so make sure it’s not a big story.

Plan to extend copyright on pop classics

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