Sunday, November 25, 2012

Calgary Centre By-Election

I don't live in Calgary Centre and I don't have a preference for who wins tomorrow - as long as it's not Joan Crockatt. Calgary is more politically diverse than it used to be, but still has some ways to go. It is not as bad as portrayed in convenient national stereotypes.  As I see it, the main challenge to Progressives are the intense partisan dislike of each other along party lines, and the impossible task of getting any type of cooperation or consensus.

There were a few polls during the election and there were long and complicated arguments regarding the validity of the results.  The last one I saw had Crockett at 37%,  Locke  at 35%, and recording a drop of Green Party Candidate Chris Turner to 17%.

I'm not willing to make a dogmatic prediction about the results tomorrow - I'll leave that to the partisans. However I do believe there is a probability this order will hold up and Crockatt will win.  How big is that probability? I have no idea.  It is completely unpredictable how people will move from one party to another when they get to the ballot tomorrow. I think it is possible, but highly unlikely that Turner will overtake two parties.

Low voter turnout will affect Locke and Turner more adversely than Crockatt, since her vote is more or less locked in (no pun).  It seems unlikely to me that the conservatives voters that are left for Crockatt will abandon her.  For them it's more about the Prime Minister than anything else.  That and hating Justin Trudeau.

The NDP will probably also hold it's voters down.  Green Party comparisons to the Nenshi winning mayor's campaign are probably invalid for this reason. In that race the 4th place candidate, Joe Connelly, took less than 1% of the total vote. If the NDP holds their 10-12% tomorrow it makes it much harder for Locke or Turner to find new votes.

So, basically, I'm hoping for a pleasant surprise tomorrow, but not overly optimistic.  The idea of a consensus candidate, and the hard work of 1CalgaryCentre has been thrown out there to the privacy of the voting booth.

And finally, don't forget Locke, Turner and Meade had the Calgary media campaigning against them. Good for them, for getting good press wherever they could find it.  It's not an excuse for losing, just a fact of life out here in "the west".

Please recommend this post

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Excellence in Blog Commenting

via Comments thread at Butterflies and Wheels:

I’ve been accused by atheist men of not caring about Muslim women when talking about a completely unrelated subject, it’s happened so many times I’ve lost count. I’ve been told all feminists are selfish bitches and support Muslim women wearing burqas and don’t ever talk about FGM. Christopher Hitchens once wrote that “the silence is deafening” from Western feminists regarding the plight of Muslim women. (American feminists protested his pal GW Bush when as President he entertained members of the Taliban in the White House, but I guess Hitchens conveniently didn’t notice). A.C. Grayling wrote that it’s up to Western women to “strain every sinew” to liberate Muslim women, as if Western men aren’t obligated to do a damn thing.
It’s a way for them to justify hating or dismissing feminism and feeling righteous about it, too. As if we have the power to end their oppression but for some reason we’re holding out.

In the comments  at Butterflies and Wheels, one of the best comments I've seen for a while  by reader callistacat.

There's a whole back story to this about sexism and anti-women, anti-feminist attitudes in the atheist community.  The short version is using the suffering of Muslim women in Islamic countries as a rhetorical prop to vent rage against feminists in the west.


Please recommend this post

The King of YouTube's Atheist Slime Pit

There are so many triggers here I wouldn't know where to start in listing them all.

From Manboobz:
Amanda’s story illustrates what can happen to young girls when sexualized images of them floating around online, whether they’ve put these pictures up themselves in a moment of poor judgement or whether someone has stolen them from password-locked private photo albums, or whether someone has surreptitiously taken an “upskirt” or “down-the-blouse” or some other compromising picture of them in public. This is the sort of damage that things like the Jailbait and Creepshots subreddits can do to young girls. This is why it’s so important that things like these subreddits be shut the fuck down.
Sadly, even after her suicide, Amanda remains the target of bullies and assholes online.
One of these assholes? The MRA and atheist videoblogger and all-around terrible person known to the world as The Amazing Atheist, whom we first met when he had a Reddit meltdown and started spewing misogynistic abuse at his detractors. Now he’s spitting on Amanda’s memory.

It's possible a lot of atheists strictly identify in the dictionary sense, philosophically, but want nothing to do with the movement.  Who can blame them?   There's some real problems in this sub-culture.  It's not just one blogger.  The people who passively observe and don't say anything share part of the blame.


Please recommend this post

Amanda Marcotte: Reddit and Creepshots

If women have to be in your porn whether they like it or not, you can hardly complain if your real identity is outed
To which a commenter replies:

Candid pictures do not make pornography. Sitting on the bus is hardly like being on a porno set. Sure it is creepy but men taking candid pictures of mostly clothed women is hardly the end of the world as long as they dont provide details of the woman. Outing the creeps feels like harassment to me, with the implication that the creep is fair game for revenge.
How do these people (the commenter) make it through life being so obtuse. Is it deliberate?


Please recommend this post

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rebecca Watson on Harassment

 Rebecca Watson speaking at the Humanists of Florida 2012 Conference. The talk discusses sexism, harassment and threats directed towards many visible women in the atheist and skeptic communities. Youtube comment threads are one of the last warm refuges for complete asshats. Please recommend this post

Alberta Business Leaders Prefer Romney

Alberta Business leaders have expressed a preference for Mitt Romney in the upcoming Presidential election:

The online survey of 241 business leaders favoured Romney, with 42 per cent of support, over Obama, with 34 per cent. The support for Romney was higher in Calgary (45 per cent) than in Edmonton (40 per cent).

This isn't news it's opinion shaping. The  poll was conducted exclusively for the Calgary Herald,  and no doubt they pushed the answer with leading questions. I'm surprised it's not a bit higher in Calgary considering the large number of Americans living here, many of them working in resource or finance head offices. No doubt the poll's purchaser  is concerned that the general population is not tracking as high for Romney as the CEOs.

It's no secret that the Alberta Government and the Canadian Government have a strong preference for a Republican Congress and President.

I wonder if these people have any awareness at all of how backwards Romney's social views are, and how severely extremist the Republican Party has become on religion, hyper-nationalism, and anti-women policies.

It's hard to understand why someone wants to be a business partner with people who want to ban birth control, deport Muslims, and who think rape isn't necessarily rape.  Don't social issues matter in business?


Please recommend this post

Monday, October 08, 2012

Solving the Saudi Lust Problem

via BBC:

A Muslim cleric in Saudi Arabia has called on women to wear a full veil, or niqab, that reveals only one eye.
Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan said showing both eyes encouraged women to use eye make-up to look seductive.
I've always wondered why the burden lies with women to dissuade men of their improper biological urges, commonly referred to in religious jargon as lust. (I miss that flaming font)

What the Saudi clerics have discovered, and admitted rather ineptly, is that trying to make women invisible isn't working. There is ample evidence that the experiment in forced modestly has failed.  The men of Saudi Arabia simply can't control themselves around women regardless of how covered they are.

Stories of women falling afoul of the law in Saudi Arabia make the news on a regular basis. Whatever mishaps occur between men and women, it's certain that it will be the woman who ends up in prison.

As a result, as a last resort to stem this pernicious tide of desire,  the Saudi Religious authorities will have to castrate all of them.  It's the only way to be certain that these temptresses are not winking at men and leading them on a path to hell.  To paraphrase Jesus, better to cut off something now, than to suffer eternal punishment later   For a small number of them who are biologically incorrigible  it's a simple additional step to blind them.  It's a small price to pay for peace of mind.

I'm dying to hear why this proposal is radical or extremist, other than a fanatical and obsessive devotion to men's rights.

Please recommend this post

Saturday, October 06, 2012

"Calgary Muslims to campaign against controversial film"

A local Muslim organization is speaking out against a controversial anti-Muslim film.
The group will be out this weekend, going door to door in a campaign to enable Calgarians to understand why the film has offended so many.
It's good that they're trying to communicate about the Muslim communities view of this problem.  I just don't know if Calgarians will be receptive to their message.  Calgary, although diverse and friendly, also has an underside of raw prejudice.  And the climate right now is to be judgemental of local Muslims because of the actions of extremists elsewhere.

It also depends on what their message is. I don't think there's any possible way you can go to non-believers and complain about blasphemy.  It's a meaningless concept in a society of free speech and free thinkers.

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think it will turn out well. Please recommend this post

"Feminist blogger calls iconic World War II kissing photo ‘sexual assault’"

A feminist blogger is taking serious heat for suggesting that Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed photograph V-J Day in Times Square depicts anything but a jubilant embrace.
Last week, the London-based blogger known only as “Leopard” wrote the post “The Kissing Sailor, or ‘The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture.’”

Alternate post title: The Globe & Mail blows their anti-feminist dog whistle.  

I had always just assumed that the couple in that photo knew each other, but apparently not.  The kiss was not consented to.  In and of it's self it might be a pretty harmless event considering the circumstances of the war being over. In spite of that I think the blogger has a valid point about rape culture, and seems to have hit a nerve.

The virulent overly-emotional counter-reaction to this blog post, is prima facie evidence that there is an obvious cultural problem, and a deep current of anti-feminism in society.

And the comments thread in the Globe & Mail story proves that as well. 

The original post from Crates And Ribbons is here.

Please recommend this post

Friday, October 05, 2012

Anti Gay Hate Group Steals Wedding Photo

The engagement photograph showed Brian Edwards and Tom Privitere at their happiest, celebrating their love and upcoming marriage. Two years later, they were shocked to see it used in an advert opposing same-sex union.

This hate group (Public Advocate) grabbed the photo off Facebook and altered it, then used it in a massive pre-election mail-out to discredit a candidate who supported same sex marriage.

So the hate group is being sued.

Please recommend this post

Anders Pushing Transgender Hysteria

Calgary MP Rob Anders has once again drawn criticism for controversial comments, this time about the transgender community.Anders wants to stop Bill C279, a private member's bill that would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and hate crime section of the Criminal Code to include "gender identity" and "gender expression" as grounds for discrimination.He says the bill's goal is to give transgendered men access to women's washrooms, which has led it to be nicknamed the "bathroom bill" proposal.
He said it’s the duty of the House of Commons to protect children from any exposure or harm that will come from giving men this kind of access.
Rob Anders makes the news today for pushing a long standing myth that keeps circulating in social conservative circles, that transgendered people are sexual predators.  It is a variation of the blood libel .   Anders is trying to whip up hysteria among conservative church members who will  no doubt be contacting their conservative MPs.

A lot of effort goes into trying to figure out the secretive reasons why Anders is still a member in good standing in the Conservative caucus.  The simplest explanation is the best.  He holds a safe riding that brings in steady revenue.  The secondary reason is that Stephen Harper and Rob Anders are probably closer in thinking than most people think.  Anders feeds the pigs while Harper tries to look professional in the parts of Canada where he needs to win.
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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Eat More Alberta Beef Campaign

Alberta’s Agriculture Minister Verlyn Olson makes a pouty face while stocking up on Alberta Beef in a Camrose store. Good thing there was a Sun Media photographer right there to capture the moment for the front page. What serendipity! You can’t pay for that kind of luck.

Please recommend this post

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

John Bolton + Brian Lilley

via Facebook ads:
Ambassador John Bolton's is one of America's leading minds in foreign relations. His experience has earned him numerous accolades. President George W. Bush called Bolton "a stalwart defender of freedom and peace." Senator Jesse Helms (then chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee) referred to Bolton as "the kind of man with whom I would want to stand at Armageddon." We invite you to join us for what is sure to be an intellectually stimulating conversation on the Consequences of a Second Obama Term.

Stimulating? John Bolton will be speaking at the University of Calgary on October 17, 2012, and in Toronto the next day.  Canada's two most neo-con receptive cities I guess.  Bolton's warmongering about the dire consequences of re-electing Barack Obama rehashes tired right wing themes that have obviously not been working.It's sort of amazing that you can get two of the biggest professional idiots on the same stage.  If only they could get John Baird up there.  I was glad to still be alive after the Bush era came to a close.  It's true that the United Nations is dysfunctional, but the cure was not John Bolton running up and down the hallways threatening other nations with annihilation.   Harper and Baird aren't the cure either.  They're the symptom.

Please recommend this post

"France Bans Public Protests Over Cartoons"

Jason Ditz:
“There will be strictly no exceptions,” cautioned Interior Minister Manuel Valls, saying that any demonstrations will be broken up by security forces. France had previously closed a number of embassies across the Muslim World fearing protests. 
The position of the government is odd, however, as they had publicly spurned calls to censor the magazine, saying free speech is inviolable in France, and are now banning public speech in criticism of the move.
The French Government regards the rights of the media inviolable in regards to publishing inflammatory cartoons that will certainly cause violence elsewhere, yet refuses to allow protests in France.  

It's starting to look a bit like a candy machine.  People push buttons in the western countries and out pop's violence and death on TV, far far away.

Free speech and the right to mock religions and their icons are a natural right of free people, but bigotry and racial hatred are coming along for the ride.
Please recommend this post

Mr. Fish Netanyahu Cartoon

Mr. Fish Cartoon:

Benjamin Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly explaining how easy it used to be to beat the absolute shit out of cookie monster back before he obtained a cookie recipe from 1945, which immediately turned him into a fucking lunatic sugar junkie prone to crazy outbursts and spooky ululations about cookies and nobody knowing what the fuck to do about all the noise and goddamn crumbs and exploded cookie boxes everywhere.
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Alberta Skies

 Alberta skies near Ellerslie. Please recommend this post

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spoken Word Homophobia

This is just...awful, weird and creepy, and full of the usual lies about sexuality. The up camera angles are very 1984. I'm sure the young peoples of the hood were deeply touched. Update: wrong video... Please recommend this post

Mixed Message. Selective Listening

Likewise, we condemn any type of extremism. Of course, what took place was ugly. Offending the Holy Prophet is quite ugly. This has very little or nothing to do with freedom and freedom of speech. This is the weakness of and the abuse of freedom, and in many places it is a crime. It shouldn't take place and I do hope the day will come in which politicians will not seek to offend those whom others hold holy," said Ahmadinejad.
We also believe that this must also be resolved in a humane atmosphere, in a participatory environment and we do not like anyone losing their lives or being killed for any reason, anywhere in the world.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in an interview with the mentally vacant Piers Morgan.

New drinking game: take a shot every time you see the first paragraph quoted on an conservative/atheist blog without the second paragraph.

An acceptable compromise would be to create a blasphemy law with the strict requirement that you must produce the victim for cross-examination.

(Spell check tries to change Ahmadinejad to Madeleine.  They're using some type of soundex algorithm which is tuned to anglo-saxon, latin words.) Please recommend this post

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Motion to examine definition of human being defeated in Commons

Toronto Star:
OTTAWA—A Conservative MP’s pro-life bid to have Parliament study the definition of a human being has gone down to defeat in the House of Commons.
Stephen Woodworth’s motion was voted down 203-91.
Eight cabinet ministers voted in favour of the motion, including Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose, government House leader Peter Van Loan and Trade Minister Ed Fast.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had allowed his caucus to vote freely on the issue, but did not vote for it out of concern it would re-open the debate on abortion.
Four Liberals also voted in favour of Woodworth’s motion, while the NDP caucus opposed it.
Somewhere a Bishop is kicking a chair.  Maybe now they can get back to their real job.  Four Liberals voting for an anti-choice anti-woman resolution makes it impossible to take the party seriously on social issues.

And the Minister Responsible for the Status of Women...oh nevermind.


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