Interesting stuff – 2016-11-28

Here’s some stuff I found interesting this week. There’s getting to be so much interesting stuff that I might have to do this twice a week.

Trump was getting so much attention that Trudeau just had to do something to catch up. The headlines kind of say it all.

Trudeau offers condolences at Castro’s death

Such a sad occasion…

Miami’s Cuban exiles celebrate Castro’s death

Or, not so much?

Kind of makes you think Trudeau might have misread Castro’s place in history, doesn’t it? Apparently a lot of other people agree that Trudeau’s comments were rather misplaced and they have been enjoying poking fun at his expense.

He’s back in the spotlight again. Groan.

“Crying Wolf” is a phrase that’s coming up a lot these days, in light of all the protests against Trump that were based more on the traditional politics of fear propagated by progressives than on a sober analysis of Trump’s actual statements and ideologies. Well, here’s another “crying wolf” article exploring that very subject. A couple of quotes in particular stuck out for me:

The sad truth is that we conduct the bulk of our political debate in a key of near-hysteria. And this renders complaints of discrepant urgency, about politicians of different recklessness, into one big, ignorable mush of partisan rancor.

Important words are hollowed out, so that they lose their precision and their sting, and exist mainly to perpetuate a paralyzing climate of reciprocal hatred between political parties.


For your viewing entertainment…

And before you complain that this is racist, it’s the brown guy who is behind these videos.

But, he is male, probably cisgendered, and possibly heterosexual. Clearly he does have a lot of strikes against him.

Aren’t you glad the Liberals are in power now, instead of the Conservatives? We have entered a new era of government transparency.

Liberals order 235 military personnel, bureaucrats to take fighter jet details to the grave.

Or not.

I read a fascinating article contemplating why anybody would be crazy enough to become a Christian. This question would have been all the more pressing back in the first century when death is on the line; these days the biggest “threat” most Christians in Western Civilization face is ridicule from social justice warriors.

Tim Keller observes,

… many were drawn to Christianity because it was different. If a religion is not different from the surrounding culture, if it does not critique and offer an alternative to it, it dies because it is seen as unnecessary.

Part one: Christians didn’t “fit in” at all.

Another reason Christianity thrived was because it offered things that no other culture or religion even claimed to have — a love relationship with God and salvation by free grace. It is the same today. No other religion offers these things, nor does secularism. Nor can the “spiritual but not religious” option really capture them either.

Part two: a satisfying answer to the deepest authentic longings of the human race. Tim Keller concludes,

The early church surely looked like it was on the “wrong side of history,” but instead it changed history with a dogged adherence to the biblical gospel. That should be our aspiration as well.


And here’s another article on the theme of why anybody would become a Christian; why do some churches grow and others shrink? The answer is almost certainly complicated, but some interesting trends have been discovered. Growing churches have some common characteristics when compared to shrinking churches:

  • More frequent prayer and Bible reading
  • Congregation and Church leaders actually believe the core claims of Christianity (Jesus was son of God, provides means of salvation, etc)
  • The Bible is given high authority, and considered reliable

How often we’ve been told that Christianity is superstitious, morally outdated and much more? With time, we were promised, the Christian faith would either get caught up with humanity, or die. Those who stuck with the traditional understanding of Christianity were going to be left on the “wrong side of history.”

Isn’t it interesting to discover that those churches that have most eagerly endeavoured to get on the “right side of history” are the ones that don’t seem to be able to attract (or keep) people? Sometimes, it would seem, being on the right side of history might just position you on the wrong side of truth.

Canadian parliament is taking a major step forward to expose the effects of porn on society, specifically young people.

The government has announced it intends to back Conservative MP Arnold Viersen’s bid to have the committee “examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men,” and report its findings back to the House next year.

In fact, by the looks of it, Viersen may well see his proposal pass with near-unanimous support, as the list of joint seconders reveals support within every caucus – even the Bloc Quebecois, and lone Green Party representative Elizabeth May.

Yes, the government does get things right on occasion. Like Castro.

Or, not.

If you’ve read my posts for a while you may have noticed that I’m not much of a fan of social media. My reasons are multiple, but one of the biggest reasons is the fact that social media gives the illusion of communication while simultaneously undermining the very pillars upon which proper communication are built. For starters, you lose any context of non-verbal cues and the dynamic give-and-take involved with directly communicating with another human being in their physical presence.

This article highlights another of social media’s (Twitter, specifically) limitations; brevity. Any thought worth having requires a certain amount of depth to effectively convey the thought from one thinking human to another. Depth requires a reasonable number of words. Twitter’s brevity specifically precludes depth.

… everything about the [Twitter] platform militates against it, and very few people have the commitment or the resourcefulness to push back. So a typical tweetstorm, even when it’s trying to make a case for something, even when it needs to be an argument and its author wants it to be an argument, isn’t an argument: it’s a series of disconnected assertions, effectively no more than And … And … And…. I think this is enforced not primarily by the 140-character limit itself, but more by the tweeter’s awareness that each tweet will be read individually, and retweeted individually, losing any context.

Context is everything, and Twitter strips thoughts of their context. This fundamentally undermines the possibility of truly effective communication and (as others have argued) it also undermines the ability of Twitter users to actually engage in deep thinking. When you dedicate too much of your online time to swimming around in a sea of 140 character, context-less, “tweets” then if you happen to come across a 15,000 word essay on some subject it becomes much harder, if not impossible, to muster up the extended concentration necessary to properly digest the material.

There is a place for social media, but I am convinced too few people recognize its inherent limitations.

Much has been made of the fact that Trump more or less flies in the face of all that is politically correct, and he won the election. If nothing else, this confirms that many people are not as concerned about political correctness as we might think. In fact, one gets the sense that more and more people are getting sick and tired of all this wearying political correctness and are starting to lash out at Social Justice Warriors (SJW), with Trump simply being the tip of the iceberg, or the rallying cry of the masses.

This guy is another case in point.

I don’t share this because I got some kind of guilty pleasure out of watching him tear that SJW a new one (at least no such pleasure that I am willing to admit to). And I’m not sharing this because I want you to get such guilty pleasure.

I share this because I want you to watch the audience. As he vitriolically insults and degrades the SJW the audience laughs and claps. Is this not comparable to Trump? Trump is just one guy, but he managed to capture the votes of many others. This comedian is just one guy, but he is going to embolden many others.

Speaking against political correctness is a cause I can emphatically support, but not like this! And when the audience is clapping and laughing they support not only his message, but his delivery. They support mimicking the anger and shouting of the SJW as an appropriate response to the SJW.

This is a problem. The SJW fire is not going to be put out with fire. This is the wrong tactic. We need a better solution than this. His criticism are warranted, yes, but how he approached the problem is only making things worse.

How do we make things better?

Speaking of both Twitter and our inability to disagree with others respectfully, the problem has gotten so out of hand that a PhD student set out to examine it, and how to respond so as to reduce the vitriol.

I’m less interested with the results of his study (though they are interesting; you should read the article) as I am with the fact that this is a broad enough problem that it warrants investigation! What does that say about us? Seriously, we have a problem!

And I am left wonder how he managed to not only create fake Twitter users (not sure what Twitter thinks about that), but also managed to get 500 followers for those users. Man, I don’t have more than a handful of readers of my blog, and I’m a real person!

That leads me to wonder if some (most? all?) of the “followers” are also fake accounts.

Which leads me to wonder if the offensive accounts that this PhD student was investigating are actually real people. Maybe they were also just robot accounts created by other PhD students.

Are there any real people on Twitter? Oh, right, there is the Real Donald Trump.

This is a rather disturbing case,

… a man testified that [Toronto pastor Brent] Hawkes led him down a hallway naked during a drunken get-together at his Nova Scotia trailer in the mid-1970s and performed sex acts on him in a bedroom.

Isn’t this just another case of a Christian spiritual leader sexually molesting young kids? This one is different, and could have some significant consequences.

Hawkes is openly gay, and considered the “spiritual leader” for the gay community in Toronto. Could this case have ramifications for the acceptance of homosexuality in Canada? After all, this guy isn’t just some schmuck in the pew; he is an openly gay spiritual leader to openly gay people, and this assault (if true) was of both a homosexual and pedophiliac nature.

Of course, the case is not over so it would be premature to presume guilt or innocence. But this will definitely be one worth watching to see what the fallout (if anyway) will be.

In For the Love of Alberta I argued that socially and fiscally conservative policies are generally associated with better societal well-being. I compared the fiscal policies of various provinces, and Manitoba came out pretty bad.

A new report suggests mental illness among Manitoba children is double the national average. According to this article,

Our study doesn’t give us a simple answer, but we know that social issues like poverty and poor housing have a huge impact on children’s mental health.

And poverty is generally associated with jurisdictions that prefer “progressive” fiscal policies over “conservative” fiscal policies.

It’s a small piece of evidence, but it’s consistent with what I previously researched.