A sample of the representation you could have…

To all my friends in the New Westminster-Coquitlam federal riding that has an upcoming by-election next week, if you vote Tory, this is the sort of representation you could have:

Conservative candidate Diana Dilworth will attend neither [all-candidates forum], according to her campaign manager.

She is boycotting one meeting “because of concerns the venue isn’t a ‘credible venue for citizens to find out what the candidates are all about,’” and “scheduling conflicts” prevent her from attending the other. The hosts of the supposedly biased forum had this to say:

Those criticisms come as a surprise to Burquitlam Residents Association president Don Violette, whose group has hosted all-candidates meetings for elections at all levels of government for 10 years and is usually praised by candidates for fairness.

“I find that strange to believe… all we did is ask the questions that are in writing,” said Violette, who said when he moderates, he takes pains to ensure all candidates get a chance to respond and makes sure questions aren’t slanderous or simply full of political posturing.

“I’ve been focused on being totally unbiased…”

Dilworth would attend a Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce candidates forum, but they don’t hold them for by-elections.

Looking at the results of the past elections and the fact Ignatieff continues to lead the Liberals closer to the Conservatives, your real progressive choice (that actually shows up in the riding) is Fin Donnelly (but of course, I’m biased).

Gimme’ some of that old time anti-theism

This morning I decided to make the commute to the weekly Sunday morning BC Humanist meeting in Vancouver, mainly helped by the fact the time change made getting up on a Sunday less of a chore.

I had met with the Secular Humanists in Calgary a long time ago, and was expecting a similar dynamic of older-aged, don’t-rock-the-boat style humanists.

Unfortunately, I was again the junior of most of the members by at least 20 years, and in most cases 30-50 years (one member had a granddaughter that’s my age). Nevertheless, this group still had lots of energy. The discussions were lively, and next week they plan to discuss the friendly vs. offensive atheism stances.

The meeting was fairly well organized, with a couple of leaders who saw that it ran smoothly from the catching-up gossip of the first half to a viewing of a clip from the Dawkins: Genius of Darwin Uncut Interviews. Unfortunately, we ran out of time and weren’t able to have a post-video discussion, which frustrated a few people.

I also sensed there was some discontent with the BCHA board, who for the most part weren’t in attendance. But I can’t really comment on this at all since I don’t know their internal dynamics.

They did let me know that they had tried to contact CFI Vancouver, but hadn’t heard a response so hopefully that can all be sorted out.

They also currently don’t have any registered Humanist Officiants in BC, since a few years ago they decided not to go with the religious officiant label that the BC government would require (otherwise they are just plain old marriage commissioners – which have less freedom in their ceremonies).

I will say that they were all very friendly and were definitely glad to have a newcomer to their meetings. Humanist associations have a lot of history and are well established in Canada. They’ve had charitable status for a number of years (something recently attained by CFI after much hard work) and are generally positive in outlook. Unfortunately, many humanist organizations have stagnated and failed to attract new and younger members, causing some (like in Edmonton) to vanish entirely.

So for the time being I think I’ll attend the odd BCHA event and try to encourage a few more people to come – there’s a lot of experience in these groups and it can help to sometimes no have to reinvent the wheel.

No one should care what they think anyways

Newsflash: Conservative cops don’t like Vancouver’s safe-injection site.

In other news, sky still said to be blue (it’s perpetually cloudy here for the next 4 months so I’ll take your word).

But seriously, a study of police officers opinions is not a legitimate source of data compared to actual sociological studies of the project. But facts don’t tend to matter to some officers or politicians.

Creationism at YVR

I’m heading from Vancouver to Calgary this weekend to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with my fiancée’s family, and I thought it would be a little tongue-in-cheek if I wore my Royal Tyrrell Museum Evolve t-shirt (with the classic misguided evolution picture):

But I’m not even in Calgary yet and I’ve already been confronted over my t-shirt.

Walking through security the guard who waved me through the scanner said she liked my shirt, then the guy scanning my bags looked at me and asked where I got it.

I replied the Tyrrell Museum and then he asked if I “believed” it.

Now, the average creationist is annoying enough to deal with, but you tend not to want to argue with people with guns who have the ability to order full cavity searches on anyone randomly.

But he felt like continuing, blathering something about the comparative anatomy of human skin cells being more like cats then monkeys and that disproved evolution (wouldn’t that really just demonstrate we’re more related to cats then monkeys and not disprove anything?). He finally finished scanning my stuff, which I grabbed and walked off as he said that I could even “ask any doctor” or pre-med about what they study (I imagine comparative anatomy is done more on cats and smaller mammals because of numerous reasons which boil down to we value them less than the “higher” apes – including valuable reasons like growth rates, etc.)

I can’t find any references to his absurd claims on TalkOrgins.org, but that’s more likely that he’s mixing numerous stories and I wasn’t willing to sit around and be preached at by a security guard.

Beyond the annoyance of being preached at in one of the most awkward situations possible, I think we ought to have a few concerns here:

  1. A creationist is using his position to push his beliefs – atheists wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be allowed to mock people who walk through wearing crosses or other religious symbols. (Note I’m not calling evolution a religious position, but it’s not something we need to debate when you’re trying to determine if I’m a threat to air travel).
  2. Someone anti-science is running x-ray machines and granting access to airplanes – two of physics crowning achievements of the 20th century.
  3. If you like conspiracies, perhaps you could ask how many creationists are running airport security (and other government jobs) since Harper became prime minister? I doubt it’s higher than the general public.

Living Waters Vancouver care of Google Streetview

Despite the people who don’t understand that it’s generally fair to drive around a city and take pictures of anything that’s publicly displayed, I love the Google Streetview feature of their maps and that they’ve just launched it in Canada. Especially because I can show you locations like this that I mentioned the other day:

View Larger Map

That giant blue store with the cross is Ray Comfort’s E. Hastings ministry. Of course there’s more ministries than affordable housing on that street, which begs the questions:

  1. Are these religions doing more good or harm to the down-on-their luck? And atheists, actually be honest, how many people are being fed by religions down there that otherwise wouldn’t have a food – and is that worth the lies they get in exchange?
  2. Where are the secular or atheist charities in the area?

I’ve incited the Defenders of the Truth(tm) part 1

In response to my post on H1N1 anti-vaxxers in Vancouver, I received the following email:

Hello Ian,

I just finished reading your piece re. Vancouver and “conspiracy theorists” which  put forth several flawed assumptions:

1- No one “crashed” the Kevin Annette event. Kevin Annette actually addressed the very  issue of the N1H1 flu and its relevance to indigenous populations at a downtown rally only a short while before he spoke at the VPL. Furthermore, he INVITED the audience to come hear him at the library where he said he would also address the issue of how smallpox was deliberately spread to such populations historically.

2- Infering that those who organized the rally are tied to/influenced by www.legitgov.org  has no basis. That same flyer cited The Center for Disease and Research Policy, The World Health Organization, The Times of India, The Telegraph and a number of other sources in the quotes included. Furthermore, the citation by legitgov.org re. vaccine manufacturers being exempt from liability in the event of vaccine induced damages has been alluded to by scientists like Professor Emeritus of Genetics, Joe Cummins of The University of Western Ontario, Dr. Tom Jefferson, European epidemiologist etc. Citing a source does not infer you are tied to that source… Our group is made up of individuals of diverse backgrounds and areas of expertize including teaching, nursing, science and research who’ve come together out of concerns re. the lack of transparency and questioning re. H1N1 and its fast tracked vaccine.

3-Re. the “crazies” on the flyer. No one in Vancouver wrote the words from The Project of the New American Century re. “targeting specific genotypes”, nor did anyone locally write; it’s “not determined if the virus was a natural mutation or bio-engineered. Many fear the latter.” That came from the Pentagon’s ‘Air Force 2025’ written in 1996. Nor did anyone locally create the image ‘Epidemics Made to Order’ which was taken from ‘Science Digest’, April 1951. No one in Vancouver forced Washington DC medical director of the DCHHS to say “This strain of swine flu influenza that’s been cultured in a lab..” HE made that comment, not us. And Neurosurgeon and MD, Dr. Russell Blaylock gave his article that “omminus” title not us. As for him quoting the well respected journal Virology re. the strange origins of the 2009 N1H1, other respected scientists have rightly questioned the origins of the latest human-avian-swine concoction, too. The flyer was simply a compilation of a few of many quotes “from the horse’s mouth.”

Lastly, as one of a number of individuals who attended Kevin’s talk re. residential schools after leaving the Art Gallery, I find your accusation and, once again, assumption that those who came “craftily” only did so re. the swine flu absurd and insulting. I personally know individuals who raised questions at the VPL (at the Art Gallery) only one or two of whom alluded to the H1N1. These people have known Kevin for years and respected his work re. exposing the crimes committed by residential schools … Once again, it was Kevin who spoke to the implications of H1N1 re. indigenous grops at the rally, and invited people to hear him at the VPL comment further re. smallpox etc.

Your comments are way off base,

Alright, regarding point 1, I did not have access to the knowledge that the anti-vaxxers were invited by the host. So it wasn’t so much as a lecture that was “crashed” as one where everyone but the hosts (CFI-Vancouver) had drank the anti-vax Kool-Aid.

Point 2: The reason I linked them to legitgov.org is because that’s where the exact flier they handed out came from. It’s not a matter of citation, it’s a matter of handing out some wacky fringe groups propaganda. If I handed out Conservative Party fliers, but said it was merely about the information on them, I’d still be a Tory hack.

I’m really not sure what point 3 is trying to get across, but if you hand out information from someone who says wildly outlandish things, I can thereby accuse you of the same.

Now he makes another point (this one isn’t numbered), where he feels like my comments were “absurd and insulting,” which, ironically, is how I feel about people who fear-monger about vaccines which are there to increase herd immunity to the masses. The residents of the Lower Eastside and aboriginal reserves are likely at a higher risk of exposure to H1N1 due to unsanitary conditions, and therefore the government feels that vaccinating them could save lives and prevent further spread of the disease.

I’m not going to concede being off base, because frankly, a flier from some conspiracy site isn’t going to convince me that your conspiracies are anything but just that.

And as for Kevin Annette, who was asked by CFI to speak on the topic of residential schools, I’ll hold him at fault for hijacking our meeting and taking it into quackery.

While he may have done some good work with the victims of those atrocities, it doesn’t make him immune from irrationality.

Vancouver – Canada’s conspiracy breeding grounds?

Before I let the rest of Canada in on the next upcoming big conspiracy theory (since 9/11 and MMR vaccines), didI ever find a deal for anyone with $17 extra dollars in their pocket on October 16. Live at the Kitsilano Community Centre:

UFO Presentation & Discussion
Based on government documents released through the freedom of information act, Internet readings and You Tube videos, this course covers current ufology, the history going back to Roswell, and the secrecy suppressing this advanced technology which could help us and our environment.
Instructor: Brian Ruhe
45580.401KT $17/1 sess
Fri Oct 16 7:00pm-9:30pm

Anyone else feel like launching weather balloons in the park next to the hall after their session?

An article from NowPublic.com has been reprinted with sections highlighted and distributed around Vancouver. The article is omminously titled “Vaccine May Be More Dangerous Than Swine Flu.”

It makes such bold claims as:

This virus continues to be an enigma for virologists. In the April 30, 2009 issue of Nature, a virologist was quoted as saying,”Where the hell it got all these genes from we don’t know.” Extensive analysis of the virus found that it contained the original 1918 H1N1 flu virus, the avian flu virus (bird flu), and two new H3N2 virus genes from Eurasia. Debate continues over the possibility that swine flu is a genetically engineered virus.

While no, I’m not a microbiologist, I would be willing to bet that ALL flu viruses contain similar stands of DNA, seeing how they are all very related evolutionarily.

The group that presented this conspiracy crashed the CFI Vancouver talk last night on Genocide in Residential Schools. They were crafty to frame their concerns as suggesting that natives and residents of Vancouver’s poor Lower East Side will be among the first “test” subjects to receive this vaccines (allegedly in October, a month ahead of the “official” release).

Here’s the actual leaflet of condensed crazy that they were handing out.

One of the theorists accused a local CFI Organizer of being a member of the Illuminati.

This all looks like its tied to a group called “Citizens for Legitimate Government” whose website is orders beyond Time Cube (just try to read that website), but still calls 9/11 a coverup and talks about the “New World Order.”

So there you have it. H1N1 (Swine Flu) and the associated vaccine is the next conspiracy to make it out of the gates.