A Puff of Absurdity: On Slippery Arguments and Women at Google

You can read most of the infamous Google memo here, and for the record, I don’t think opening up this discussion should be a fireable offence, but I’m just concerned with this one piece of the puzzle right now: “the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Sugar and Socialization

An Agenda discussion on sugar use is timely for me. I typically let students eat something small and healthy in class to tide them over until lunch, but, in one class this semester, I ended up having to police their choices. A few shovelled candy into their mouths before I’d tell them to put it ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Sugar and Socialization

An Agenda discussion on sugar use is timely for me. I typically let students eat something small and healthy in class to tide them over until lunch, but, in one class this semester, I ended up having to police their choices. A few shovelled candy into their mouths before I’d tell them to put it ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Gender Pronouns and Peterson’s Case

This is a difficult thing for me to figure out, and I’m not sure I’m quite firm on anything yet, but I’ve been completely fascinated by the discussions around Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto prof who refuses to use individually-determined gender pronouns, so I’ll try to narrow down what I actually think based on ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Gender Pronouns and Peterson’s Case

This is a difficult thing for me to figure out, and I’m not sure I’m quite firm on anything yet, but I’ve been completely fascinated by the discussions around Jordan Peterson, the University of Toronto prof who refuses to use individually-determined gender pronouns, so I’ll try to narrow down what I actually think based on ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Those Statues Again

There are dueling petitions out to continue (which curiously disappeared) and stop statues of all 22 prime ministers being planted on the grounds of Wilfrid Laurier University, my old school that I loved all to bits. I wrote about this statue project on its inception two years ago. The statues were originally to be set ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Sex Work

Bill C-36, which passed into law almost a year ago, begins like this: “Whereas the Parliament of Canada has grave concerns about the exploitation that is inherent in prostitution and the risks of violence posed to those who engage in it…recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Friendships of Utility not Virtue

It sounds horrible, doesn’t it?  Like we’re using people, hanging out with them only because they have a nice car or because they often pick up the bill for lunch. I wrote here about utility like it’s a bad thing, but what if we use people for their company? Does that make it different? And ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Being an Ally

I’m not sure how to say this without being blasted, but I’ll try:  I might understand a little piece affecting Rachal Dolezal decision to present as black rather than be a white ally. I just have one story.  It was about ten years ago.  I had just finished reading The History of Mary Prince: A ...

A Puff of Absurdity: OITNB

I read some review somewhere of the first episode of Orange is the New Black on the weekend before I dove into a marathon session of the entire season.  It suggested that the reason people like the show is because it actually shows real relationships between real women.  The context is divorced from most viewer’s ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Free Speech and Safe Spaces

Pathologizing disagreement is an intellectually dishonest way to cope with challenging arguments. It certainly doesn’t support critical thinking. It also creates a culture wherein people are afraid to express dissenting opinions or question the party line….It’s okay to disagree, but not to frame differences of opinion as abuse. Meghan Murphy wrote those words in a ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Restricting Free Speech

 “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall I’m not so sure I agree with Ms. Hall’s famously misattributed line.  People say some truly cruel things, and I’m not convinced we should have a right to be publicly malicious.  As always, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: It’ll Be Fast: On Yes Means Yes

Globe and Mail. I was struck by the report of an intimate exchange between a man and woman in today’s Globe & Mail; the woman later questioned how consensual the act really was.  She said, “Please stop,” and he responded, “It’ll be fast.”  Later she says “yes,” then later again “no.” But that “fast” line struck ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Diamond’s Collapse

A while back, Mound suggested I read Collapse by Jared Diamond, and I finally got to it. It’s a fascinating read particularly for anyone interested in ancient civilizations. Diamond explores what caused the destruction of various civilizations over the past couple millennia. What interested me, of course, is his final few chapters that clarify what ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Mesothelioma: Dying to be Heard

Today isn’t just Groundhog’s Day, it’s “Lung Leavin’ Day” – a commemorative day sparked by Heather Von St. James who had her lung removed eight years ago today due to mesothelioma.  Check out the ritual she cultivated on her website and an interview with her here.  This is a very specific cancer caused by asbestos exposure. ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Further to York University’s Discrimination Issues…

If you haven’t heard, a York University prof denied a student’s request to work in all male groups for religious reasons.  York’s Centre for Human Rights suggested the student should be granted the request to avoid being with women in public.   I commented with my views here: I see education as a stepping stone ...

A Puff of Absurdity: The Tao of Environmentalism

At Politics Respun, Stephen Elliott-Buckley suggests we make decarbonizing our New Year’s resolution.  In a fit of frustration, I commented thusly: What does it look like to join you? I mean I’m totally in, but what do I do to “seriously begin to decarbonize”?  How to stop this? I already don’t own a car, freezer, ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On John Stuart Mill, Free Speech, and Climate Change

I got caught up in a few arguments about climate change recently that just reinforced to me, that there’s still such a strong bashlash against the entire idea that we’re unlikely to move forward quickly enough to be effective. Paper is trees! My school board is fundraising for the Philippines, and I’m totally on board ...

A Puff of Absurdity: A Little Hope is Effective…

A lot of hope is dangerous. – President Snow This may be a little hokey, but I think Catching Fire is an important film to see right now. And it’s awesome! I read the books ages ago, but even though I know how they each end, it didn’t stop me from being on the edge ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Paternity Rights in Rape Cases

It’s an interesting moral dilemma to have a judge decide a child has access to a father when the only contact the mother and father had was a sexual assault producing this child.  This isn’t entirely the story here.  In this article, it could be a case of statutory rape.  It’s possible there was a ...

A Puff of Absurdity: On Raising the Minimum Wage

So, the argument goes something like this:  If you raise minimum wage, corporations will pay for that cost by raising prices, thereby increasing inflation, and we’ll all be poorer for it as everything gets more expensive.  The problem isn’t wages, but inflation. Therefore, we should not increase minimum wage. It follows, that it’s necessary that ...

A Puff of Absurdity: Sammy Yatim: When is a Cop Justified in Using Fatal Force?

There’s a “justification” piece in the National Post on behalf of the cop who shot Sammy Yatim.  It doesn’t offer much to go on beyond that we shouldn’t trust a brief video to tell the whole story.  But I asked a cop what he thought of the situation, and he gave me some astute points for ...