Introducing PolitiCoast

There’s not much going on here these days but if you’re still following this feed, make sure to check out my new project: PolitiCoast – a Canadian politics podcast.

Our marketing’s so good we’ve already been accused of hiding our funding.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, etc. Or just follow the blog for updates.

We’re going to be recording every Thursday night with a goal of releasing by Friday morning. Plus there will be some bonus episodes scattered throughout (like our teaser following the US presidential debate).

That said, the focus is mostly on looking at politics from a BC lens, since almost no one else is (especially now that The Strategists are reportedly calling it quits).

And like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

The Big Bang Theory is ruining science

When The Big Bang Theory first premiered, I watched it with a lot of hope.

It had science script checkers and sought to bring the nerdy culture of physics into the mainstream. My wife (then girlfriend) and I started watching it while we were both undergrads – me in engineering physics and she in physics. While it’s predominantly male cast and token ditzy blonde was problematic from the start, it was relatable for us and our friends. Even if none of us were a Leonard, Sheldon, Raj, or Howard, we saw bits of each of those characters in each of us. Even Penny started to develop into a rounded character and slowly they introduced a couple female scientists. Overall, it was good.

But it’s moved so far from that. Many of our friends gave up on it years ago as the show drifted toward the lowest common denominator. The physics jokes are almost entirely gone and the humour is more about laughing at the gang for being nerdy and socially awkward than the humour in the situations they get into.

This latest episode – the ninth season premier at that – reached an incredible new low though. Amy’s escape from her joyless relationship with Sheldon was seen by Sheldon as an indictment on half the population. The script writers then chose to run with that “gag” through the entire episode. In one scene Sheldon is creeping in a window because he wanted to pressure Amy into getting back together with him. By the end he’s saying that the only good woman is scientist Marie Curie but she was “an honorary man because she had a penis made of science.”

Not to be outdone on the creep-factor, comic book store owner Stuart’s gag was to instantly prey on every female character as soon as he had a hint that she might be single. Meanwhile Leonard follows up his elopement to Penny by revealing that he works with a woman he cheated on Penny with and then offers sex as a means to distract her.

Given the deep systemic issues faced by women in science, there’s no forgiveness for this show to stoop to this level. What could be a way to make science cool, fun, and engaging has instead just become offensive for its misogyny, its disservice to the incredible women in science, and for perpetuating cruel stereotypes about men in science.

I feel betrayed.

Blog Updates

As you can maybe tell (if you aren’t reading this from RSS), I updated the theme a few weeks ago when I started blogging more consistently again.

I tried to go for a cleaner theme and I’m open to suggestions or criticisms.

Additionally, I’ve added some commenting options. People have had trouble with my CAPTCH code in the past, so it’s a bit cleaner now. Alternatively there are options to comment through Facebook or Google+.

Finally, I deactivated a few old plugins that are pretty redundant now and re-added Google Adsense to the posts (just a text banner here or there). Sadly blogging isn’t profitable enough yet for me to live off it full-time (or any amount of time) but maybe one day I could have some spare pocket change from this.

Feel free to make any other suggestions below. What should I be writing about? What do I not cover enough or too much?

And those who just want my travel updates can follow my Tumblr.

This blog has been running for 6 years and 4 months!

Skeptic with an Eh?

Seeing a gap in the Leed’s Skeptics in the Pub event for September, I volunteer to give a talk on the skeptical movement in Canada.

Here are the details if you want to come stalk me in person:

Monday, 23 September 2013 19:00 at the Victoria Hotel (28 Great George Street, Leeds LS1 3DL)

While I haven’t written down the exact notes for what I want to cover (I have all weekend), I’m basically going to discuss the 6 years I spent organizing freethought groups in Edmonton and Vancouver, and what I learned about the broader skeptical/Humanist movement in Canada during that time. Hopefully I’ll also have time to get into some of the current issues in Canada and where people stand.

I’ll try to keep gossip and my personal opinions to a minimum during the talk but I may intersperse them during the discussion afterward.

Hopefully it will be filmed so I can post a video of it later for those who want to subject themselves to that. Hope to see you there!

A note on “Skepticism and Gypsy Stereotypes”

Hopefully you took the time to read the article I just posted entitled “Skepticism and Gypsy Stereotypes.” I want to give some backstory to this piece, separate from the article itself.

After attending Imagine No Religion 3 this past spring, I had wanted to challenge the trope of Gypsy Fortune-Tellers that was tangentially brought up on a couple occasions by conference speakers. I don’t suspect and malice or intentional racism on the part of the speakers but the myths should be debunked and consciousness should be raised.

Looking a bit into it, I discovered a 1999 article by famed skeptical investigator Joe Nickell that quotes James Randi describing Gypsies as:

an ethnic group who “essentially live outside the cultures of the countries in which they choose to reside” and who often treat non-gypsies as “fair game for their fortune-telling, curse-lifting and other superstitious ministrations” (Randi 1995).

While I couldn’t track down Randi’s ‘95 reference, it appears he makes a fairly extreme claim about an entire ethnic group without evidence.

This is called racism.

So I started looking wider into the issue, and given my extremely limited background in social sciences, I recruited Edwin Hodge, the skeptical political sociologist, to assist me. Together we drafted the article over the course of a couple months (we’re both really busy) and submitted it to a leading skeptical magazine.

We were advised that it was a good topic to cover, we should shift the tone from an editorial to a more research-based piece (a legitimate request and expected given all of my writing is editorial). However, given recent concerns about the leadership of the various organizations which publish the major skeptic magazines, we opted to publish the article electronically as-is instead.

I hope you’ll share the article as you can. The Roma face a ridiculous amount of discrimination, especially from the Canadian government who, Jason Kenney in particular, view them as dirty thieves.

Terahertz Atheist Video Blog

I always have a number of long-term projects in my head. Reaching out via different mediums is one of them, and practice speaking and editing is always important for me.


To accomplish this I’ve started an intermittent video blog/podcast supplement to this blog. Only two episodes are up so far – the first on Fusion: Hot and Cold and the second on GMO Labelling – and it’s only available through YouTube for now (I may look into the technical aspects of how to iTunes it next week). You can subscribe to the RSS feed here or follow the YouTube playlist here.

My goal is to produce quality, short, informative and interesting videos. It will take a few before I hit my stride and I don’t promise a consistent release schedule (which means it may drop off the radar for a while).

Here’s the first two episodes:

Episode 1: Fusion Hot and Cold

Episode 2: GMO Labeling

Hacked by Hacker

My blog is hosted by HostPapa, which up until now has been a fantastic host.

Unfortunately, a few days ago (and I didn’t notice until this evening) this host got hacked and many WordPress sites were replaced with the ingenious slogan “Hacked by Hacker.”

Luckily, I was able to quickly reset my admin password and discovered by blog database was intact (it was a host-wide rather than targeted attack) and replace the theme, fixing everything.

My other sites on this server: and were also hit, but my home subdomain somehow avoided the attack.

For now, I’ve reverted to an older theme to keep the site running.

I guess I got off lucky this time but it’s still annoying to deal with at 1 am on a Saturday night after a few glasses of wine.

Support our Light the Night Walk

Grant LaFleche, writing for the St. Catherine’s Standard, wrote a column yesterday calling on atheists to be more charitable.

It’s a common trope that atheists and Humanists don’t give as much (or frequently) as the religious. Lacking formal structures and congregations, there’s less of a culture of philanthropy, both in terms of regular tithes or even to secular charities.

However, these trends are changing.

The Foundation Beyond Belief is working with freethought groups across North America to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk. As of this morning they have raised nearly $305,000 toward their goal of $500,000 – which will be matched by the Stiefel Foundation for a total gift of $1 million to fight blood cancer.

Here in Vancouver, the BC Humanist Association’s team has raised over $3,500 between our 15 team members (comprised of BCHA, Vancouver Skeptics, and UBC Freethinkers members).

Our walk is this Saturday, so if you can spare a few dollars, why not chip into my campaign. Remember that every dollar you donate is being matched and Canadian donations over $25 are eligible for a tax-receipt.

Every gift, big and small, is appreciated and helps highlight the compassion and charity we all have.