Humanists Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba
March 25, 2013
Where's those website updates?
Over there —> http://mbhumanistsatheists.ca
Its the new HAAM website. Go there. Enjoy. Participate.
This site will persist for a while as it has a lot of content people may be linking to. There will be no further updates. Presumably, the crew will scrape and paste what content they feel is needed. As well, there are several years of fascinating HAM Newsletters on here.
January 12, 2013
Where's those website updates?
A new website has been under development for the last month or two. It currently lives on a private server. With this is in motion, very few updates have or will be made to this site other than on the Events and Newsletters pages.
November 4, 2012
Solstice / End of the World Party
December 12: While it might be fun to offer people who believe the world will end five cents on the dollar for all their worldly possessions, the ethics of taking advantage of the gullible are questionable. We have something better in mind.
December 21: Solstice, the shortest of days and the longest of nights. A person could get to wondering when winter will ever end. Good news - the beginning of the end (of winter, not the world) starts on that same date.
December 21: Coincidentally, HAAM and the Winnipeg Skeptics are hosting a joint event for both:
Apocolypse 2012: The End Of The World Party
When? Friday, December 21, if we are all still here.
Where? Assiniboine Golf Club
Time? 7 pm to midnight
Food and drink? Yes, light buffet plus cash bar
Moar? Music, dancing, silent auction, end of the world quiz, fun.
Money? Yes, $15.00 for a ticket. Includes the buffet, but you must buy your own drinks.
Tickets? Available now, and at the door (limited numbers).
More inspiration on this and other fascinating things in the November 2012 Newletter:
The Biblical Morality Tour
Edward Falzon is the Australian author of the book Being Gay is Disgusting and is now on a North American promotional tour. You can see him and perhaps ask a question or two this Thursday.
Happens 2012 July 26, 7:00pm - 9:00pm at the Winnipeg Millennium Library, 251 Donald Street.
Edward's blog is at www.beinggayisdisgusting.com. Videos, tour map, downloads, other good stuff.
Summer of changes and events
2012 July 9
Please bare it all with us as the site is slowly updated to reflect the new name.
Sadly for us, happily for Sophie
Our very activist and social member Sophie Shulman has left the land of Winter for the blossoms and rain of Victoria BC. She will remain an active Humanist, especially since Barrie Webster is out there keeping things on track at the Victoria Secular Humanist Association. Now Sophie can keep Barrie on track.
Wishing you the best, Sophie. Visit when you can. I'm sure some of us will come visit you in your new city.
Being Gay Is Disgusting
No, we didn't say that. Its the title of a book by Australian atheist and author Edward Falzon. He is currently on tour in Canada and the US and we are fortunate to have him in Winnipeg. Twice! The book is a humorous modern re-telling of the first five books of the old testament.
You can check the events page for more details.
MASH Film Festival
August 19: Keep your calendars clear.
No, not the 4077th. The Manitoba Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Film Festival.
Months of changes and events
2012 May 28 (posted on July 9)
Also known as HA2M, Humanists, Atheists and Agnostics of Manitoba (HAAM) is our organization's new name. Much of our correspondence and information will retain the old name for some time. You can use the names interchangeably.
Some people may have thought the vegan/vegetarian component of the membership pushed for a non meaty name. This is untrue.
One of the main reasons is that most of the population has no idea what the term Humanist means. Most Humanists are atheists, so adding Atheists to the title may seem redundant to them. But to atheists and agnostics looking for like-minded people, it brings clarity.
So what is not a Humanist in our frame? I've heard a few descriptions. We can add to this list:
So what are Humanists in the HAAM frame? A very short definition is:
Humanists believe that this life is the only life we have, that the universe is a natural phenomenon with no supernatural side, and that we can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
An atheist bus campaign is now on the menu. Currently, if you wish to donate, you can only send a cheque or cash. PayPal/CC to come. More details on the campaign itself to come.
We are now on Meetup at http://www.meetup.com/The-Humanist-Association-of-Manitoba/
Donna did that. Cheers and three cheers.
2012 Jan 15
August Berkshire at HAM
After our AGM comes the regular monthly meeeting at 5:30pm (Jan 21, see Events page). August Berkshire, president of Minnesota Atheists, will be speaking to us. For more info on August, see augustberkshire.com and see what the Minnesota Atheists are doing.
Darwin Day 2012Charles Darwin's birthday is 2012 February 12. Our monthly meeting will be on the 11th. In celebration of Darwin, we will be serving cake. Oh, and holding an open forum on HAM and who amd why we are.
Happy New Year
2012 Jan 01
Donna suggested the calendar be adjusted so Jan 1 is on the day on or after winter solstice, thus making it a true new year start. That is, related to an actual and significant celestial event rather than a "magic date" on a calendar. I think this would be great. Now if we can convince the rest of the world to run December as a 30 day month for just 10 years, we are there with minimal disruption.
Newsletter heads up
On the right hand column, you will find a Latest Newsletter heading and a newsletter date under it. Click on the date - newsletter loads up. If you don't see that, click the F5 key on your keyboard.
As of now, Donna (our somewhat famous newsletter editor) can upload newsletters directly. Without waiting for me. This
Tis the Season of Reason (for some)
2011 Dec 03
The December newsletter is now available. Partial preview:
Letters to the Editor department
Bob Russell had this gem printed in the Winnipeg Free Press (though possibly only in the print version):
In his Nov. 26 letter, Logical impossibility, Reg Gallop asserts that atheists believe we are only "bits of valueless 'stuff', of random, inexplicable origin, like dirt or, at best, an improved ape or rat."
Only a believer would say this life is valueless. After all, to most believers this life is just a whistle stop on the heaven theme-park express. It is this monotheistic doctrine that says man was created from dirt. I prefer to believe facts. We are made of starstuff, which is amazing.
We are all members of the family of great apes, and our DNA shows we are related to rats, as well as every other living thing. This is much more astounding and awe-inspiring than any myth from Mesopotamian goat- herders.
Some people thing may think that only 'high brow' types go in for atheism and secularism. It ain't so. The logic of atheism is available to everyone, and people from every walk of life have found it to be the only thing that makes sense. Whether you drive a truck or publish papers makes no difference.
But me making the claim is not good enough. Donna was shopping online and needed something to make up enough to get the discount shipping from Amazon. I said "Hank Fox wrote a book." So she orders up Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist - Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods and Faith. Should arrive soon, and with any luck she (or I) will put a review in the newsletter or here.
His writing can be quite inspiring, and if you have some time - take a long read. Hank Fox can be found at blue-collar-atheist.com and at freethoughtblogs.com/bluecollaratheist. His writing shows the human side of atheism - one of insight and wonder, sadness and joy, life and loss, and dogs, cats, horses, people, and... never mind, just go read some.
2011 Nov 17
Bit of an oops. The November newsletter is finally on line.
The November meet went well with some 36 people in attendance. Anderson Thompson's video was very interesting, filling in a lot of holes on the mechanics of the god/religious predilection. We then contacted him with Skype video, and many of us were able to ask questions and get answers. I suspect quite a few people will be buying his (very inexpensive) book Why We Believe In God(s): A Concise Guide (paperback and ebook for kindle, kobo, etc from all the usual suspects).
Skype worked well for us. We have to do this again sometime.
Meeting Notes - Agape Table talk
2011 Oct 8
The October thanksgiving weekend is one of the worst times to schedule a HAM meeting - only 9 people showed up.
Cannot complain about the Agape Table presenters though. For those of us present, it was a very informative experience. Thanks goes to presenters Kevin Vandal and Dave Yuill of Agape Table, and to Barry Hammond (of both Agape Table and HAM) for arranging it.
Agape Table is a non-religious charitable organization that provides a number of services to the community:
Non-religious. Agape Table: non-religious. Few people know this. It is important that we understand this, given many of us want to support non-religious organizations. Many people, unsurprisingly, associate the word agape with Christianity and the reasons why are clear if you cruise wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape (well worth a look).
Agape Table was founded over 30 years ago by a group of religious leaders in the community. It continues to receive the welcome support of various churches and other religion organizations. This in addition to support from businesses and individuals. The good is where you find it.
Agape Table receives $0 from government by choice, an uncommon and liberating (if somewhat budget-limiting) way to be.
Agape Table over time dropped the religious and 'soup kitchen' aspect and re-invented itself and its programs. This means that at no time is a visitor looking for a meal confronted by prayers, sermons, speeches, or any sort of moralizing. Agape is there to provide food and support because a person is hungry. Its about that person, not Agape Table.
On the low cost meal side, $1 buys you a breakfast that you are free to complain about as in any restaurant. This is about empowerment and dignity. It is subsidized, but the customer's opinion matters. That breakfast is not made from donated food. All ingredients are of high quality, fresh, and purchased from commercial suppliers.
But enough of my words. Visit Agape Table and read some of theirs. Whenever you can, send them some money or other help (they have a list). They matter.
2011 Oct 3
Project42 has come and gone. Diana was inspired. We have great weather. What could be add to that?
Oh yeah, the October 2011 newsletter is out. Comes with a double contribution from Diana as well as Donna's recently published review on the book Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion and a short on Project42.
Don't forget to bring a little extra food money to the October 8 meeting. More info in the newsletter.
September meeting and Raffle draw results
2011 Sep 11
"Get Real" Raffle results
The draw was held at HAM's September 10 meeting at Canad Inns Polo Park around 7:30pm. Tickets were drawn by Laura Creek Newman. Legal: Manitoba Gaming Control Commission license 5215-RF.
The raffle was held to help pay for our booth at the Red River Exhibition in June. Proceeds did not quite cover it all but did help.
September 10 Meeting summary
Location - the usual, Canad Inns Polo Park.
About 47 people came out, many new to HAM. Canad Inns staff had to bring in an extra table and chairs. And for the first time a number of kids were present from a baby on up. Very nice experience, and to anyone who comes to our meetings - a signal that we are indeed family friendly.
Our speaker was Laura Creek Newman on the subject of Superfoods. Although much of the presentation was basic, she had no problems holding people's attention, and especially through a long Q and A after. We generally do not record presentations, hers included. An earlier version of her talk (Skepticamp 2010) is on youtube – Part 1 and Part 2
Skepticamp in Winnipeg: Saturday, Sep 17
A fun time for your skeptical mind - and its just a few day away at Aqua Books. This is possibly Aqua Books last event as they are closing. Seems not enough people read anymore. A loss to Winnipeg.
The Skepticamp event details are at skepticamp.org, and too many to list here.
Project42 in Fargo ND, Sep 24
Project42 is only a couple of weeks away (on September 23,24,25). Several HAM and Winnipeg Skeptics people are going. The last one was excellent, if a bit overcrowded. This year they have more space (and likely a lot more people attending).
I'll just leave this list of speakers here:
PZ Myers, Brother Richard Haynes, Robert M. Price, Robert Carrier, and Michael Shermer.
2011 Sep 06
The September 2011 HAM Newsletter is out and its got the goods on recent happenings and upcoming events. And a great article by Chef Pat Morrow
The Film Fest List
The MASH movie lineup (thanks to Donna for tracking it all down) is available on line:
Unknown links - please let Donna or me know if you have them:
HAM Barbeque Review
No hams were barbequed in the making of this event. Over 30 people showed up, plus kids and dogs. Nobody left hungry. And Pat managed to cook up a good load of burgers and smokies on a very nasty barbeque. Several deer were sighted, including three fawns.
MASH Film Festival review
Not as big a crowd as expected, but still a solid turnout. I personally felt that youtube videos are too low-res for the big screen. Yet mostly it worked out and a lot of both classic and novel new clips were shown. Much applause after each.
Particularly novel: Jeff Olsson had attended TAM 9 in Las Vegas and collected clips of many TAM presenters personally wishing the MASH film festival in Winnipeg well. Quite the opening. ★★★★★
MASH organizers had put together one of their own, The Non Believers Beliefs with PZ Myers, embedded here.
The Red River Freethinkers are putting on a weekend long event in Fargo, ND. Sep 23-25. Some of us are already signed up. The last one was bags of fun and I'm really looking forward to this one. A couple of the speakers are Michael Shermer and P.Z. Meyers. You may have heard of them. Lots more too. The core date is September 24. But if you are going why not make a weekend of it. Car poolers welcome.
Summer is almost over - last chance for some Humanist fun
Well, not really. But we have a barbeque meetup on Saturday August 13 at Assiniboine Park.
Humanist skeptics, its movie time the next evening (MASH Film Festival).
See details in the August Newsletter. Nice: Articles by Pat and Sophie.
How much summer is left?
Some people go by strict calendar dates. I feel this is a poor approach because the calendar is not in sync to annual climate shifts as they are. Much of this is due to the delay in heating and cooling the northern hemisphere as the Earth orbits Sol in its tilted fashion. So...
And so, with winter only 2 months away, get out and have some fun under a warm sun while you can.
2011 July 9
Red River Ex - its over and we have pics
To June 26, 2011: Red River Ex booth pics
The free draws were done lat eon the 26th. If you won, you should be hearing from us soon.
The RR Ex Files
Updated – HAM's Red River Ex booth pics, comments and stories posted on their own pages.
Our booth got a mention on Pharyngula (thanks PZ), so you know you should show up now.
We took a little walkabout and found the Australian exhibit. About a half dozen kangaroos happily bounding around, and some baby 'roos. Plus a few lizards, and people more than happy to tell you all about them.
Another tent holds a large Winnipeg Humane Society (WHS) multi-facetted display. And dogs and cats up for adoption. You can take the tme to get to know the critters (and the organization), and see if a new best friend might find you there. No charge to get in, but they can always put a few dollars to good use.
RREX / HAM / Winnipeg Skeptics
Hey! the Red River Exhibition is almost upon us (June 17 through 26). Get yourself out there and check out the HAM/Winnipeg Skeptics booth. HAM is selling raffle tickets for only $2 each. Many details (and the usual excellent content) in our June Newsletter.
We are not expecting to be trolled, but you never know. Whatever happens, we and you will have some fun times and meet a lot of interesting and interested people. HAM and Winnipeg Skeptic members will both be running the booth. More are better – but if you can't volunteer or commit to an exact time, come out when you can. Somebody will appreciate the chance for a lunch, dinner, or bathroom break.
June 21 at 7pm has been declared a HAM gathering at the booth. HAM members and friends invited!
Barrie Webster and a new organization
Barrie Webster is the vice-president of a new organization called Secular Connexion Seculaire (SCS). It launched May 30, so needs a bit of time to grow.
Red River Ex Booth
We now have the draw tickets. You could win an Xbox360+kinect for a $2 investment. All profits go to pay for the booth, then to HAM funds for supporting worthy causes.
Post meeting, Post nuke
Our HAM meeting on the 16th was educational and fun, with 28 people present for Joe Ackerman's talk. Expecting trouble, Jeff brought charts and graphs (its a Hydro vs enviro-myths thing). But the boxing gloves were never engaged, they had nothing to argue about.
HAM's fundraising raffle was announced. Our Red River Ex booth is costing real money, and the raffle will help offset the costs. Final prize list not set, but an XBox360+Kinect is on it. Draw date will be same as our September meeting. More details as they become available.
I wrote piece too big for the front page. Bring your god delusions and enjoy the nukes.
April brings a wide Red River
You may want to read the April newletter.
You may have heard of the CBC's vote compass which has been accused of bias. Which it necessarily is because all definitions of this type live in flexible frames. What you are depends on who is making the definition and what is going into their assumptions. No big deal, but to see what I mean give the Political Compass a try. Unlike the CBC, they don't demand profitable personal information from you. The questions are a bit different, and the frame is different. They also have compass ratings for the various parties in the last couple of elections and for 2011. It is also more internationally focussed.
Many people's favorite skeptics, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, AKA the Mythbusters, will be awarded the Annual Outstanding Lifetime Achievement Award in Cultural Humanism on April 16. It is presented at Harvard University each year by the Harvard Secular Society on behalf of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard and the American Humanist Association. Event details and a Google search for much more info.
April HAM Meeting
April 16 at Canad Inns Polo Park, 1405 St Matthews Ave.
Joe Ackerman (UofM): Lake Winnipeg and Phosphorous
2011 Mar 13
I got torn away from the machine over a month ago and forgot to post the update (scroll down to Joint Venture (Feb 6). Announced we had gotten a location at the Red River Exhibition. And we need you to help.
Donna is the main planner for the booth, and she has floated the name Reality Island.
We need you to:
We are in this with the Winnipeg Skeptics so if you are part of Winnipeg Skeptics, the same list applies. Contact Gem Newman or other core member re the list items. This is a chance to get the word out.
Some of you came to Winnipeg Skeptics or the Humanist Association of Manitoba without having any real idea that there were others like you. Thousands more - in all walks of life - are in the same situation. They are not necessarily in a position to bump into anyone who feels the same way, and in many cases have no interest in outting themselves and facing ostracization and abuse for it.
This is a huge opportunity to reach out to those who have often wondered but were afraid to say anything, or simply did not know where to look. This is a chance to set some minds free.
Why We Fight
This is what passes for knowledge in some circles. It is from a real creationist site which you can google for (no free link for them). They believe it. These are the kinds of things that get you voted off Reality Island.
When I first saw this image, I thought it was a put-on, in the way Landover Baptist is.
Sadly, alot of people believe this kind of thing to varying degrees. To anyone with even a passing familiarity with Earth's history, things like this are face-palm moments. How can anyone believe this kind of utter nonsense, you might think.
You could blame religion itself, yet many (perhaps most) people living with religion fully understand that the universe and Earth are billions of years old, that dinosaurs died out long before humans arrived (unless you think creationist=dinosaur), and that such idiotic fantasy has no place in society.
But don't bother trying to argue with a creationist. They think by the credo that proof that they are wrong is actually proof they are right. The more evidence you pile on, the more convinced they are that Noah had pairs of dinosaurs on his ark, the Earth is 6K years old, etc. Its called cognitive dissonance - a state in which reality and belief are so conflicted that the mind goes into some kind of lockdown and discards reality. The more reality conflicts, the more armor plating is added to the belief.
Fantastical beliefs harm society. The most obvious is when people try to get BS like this taught in schools (and worse: succeed). Will anyone holding these views ever be able to study biology and perhaps come up with new medical treatments, more and more of which are developed because of our understanding of evolution? No. A second hit is in making gullibility a virtue by attacking science and critical thinking which deny the belief. Essentially, this is an attack on positive human development of any sort.
We want a world in which things get better. Where knowledge of reality as it is grows and is improved on, where ideas that do not work can be discarded. It is this kind of thinking that has given us antibiotics, anti-viral drugs, the green revolution, the study of human interactions with the world that are changing the state of the world, and the fundamental knowledge of how we think so we can resist BS in its many forms and move on.
When you show one person the strength of critical thinking or the value of putting humans and other critters ahead of dogma, you do the world a service. You give him or her tools to help resist baseless claims that Tyrannosarus Rex was a salad eater, that homeopathy works, or that "god hates fags". To name a very few.
Joint Venture -> This Needs You
2011 Feb 6
In discussions with Winnipeg Skeptics, we resolved to try and get a booth at the Red River Exhibition this year. And received notice from the RREA that we have succeeded.
You might think this is your Grandpa's Ex with nothing but rides and high priced popcorn. But it has changed over the years to become much more. More than half the space is dedicated to educational displays and entertainment (plus corn dogs). It is a visual and often hands on experience. Would your grandpa's Ex have a fossil dig for kids, an art show, or a cutural event? This one does. This is the new Red River Ex, and it is an opportunity to get both our organizations out there in front of 100,000+ people from all walks of life.
They also have a large tent in which you find such booths as League for Life, Gideon's bible people, crystals, and other woo-woo. We thought: Wouldn't it be fun to park a booth between that bunch - a little corner of reason and humanity. And so an idea was born.
The Red River Ex completed a new building next to the tent a year or two ago. Our joint booth will be there (but will probably attract the attention of the Tent People). Its a classy setup.
But: We Need You to volunteer some time, whether you are a Humanist Association of Manitoba member or a Winnipeg Skeptics member. This is a 10 day exhibition that runs from 3pm to (tbd) weekdays and noon to (tbd) weekends from June 17 through the 26th. A week, a day, or even a couple of hours would be great - whatever you can do. And it'll be fun.
Begin purely educational, we will not be selling anything. Donations to offset the cost of the booth are welcome. And if you are feeling creative, helping with the handouts, poster art, signage, and so on is also welcome.
Election, and Where's the Blog?
2011 Jan 10
Jeff on religious violence
Jeff was once again on CJOB Radio (last night's Greg Glatz show) in his capacity as HAM's president discussing 'Does religion cause violence?'. If you missed it, you can go to CJOB's CJOB Audio Vault and select:
In either case, the stream is a 1 hour block. Jeff's part starts after the news (about 10 minutes in). It will expire in 30 days, so have a listen asap.
NewsletterGet the January 2011 newsletter.
Election results - Humanist Association of Manitoba
Here is how HAM stands:
Where's the Blog?
I came across this website: http://www.extraordinary-claims.com/, which is a creation of the Centre for Inquiry. Extaordinary-claims is a front end to CFI pages on a large set of what I disrepectfully call woo-woo (homeopathy, chi, that sort of thing).
Strangely the index page is an all-Flash page. Here is what you see if you don't have Flash enabled:
Internet Time note: By the time you read this, the problem may not exist.
I wonder "do they have a non-flash page for people with ipads and iphones?" Since I have neither, I need to ask someone who does, and who would have an interest in the site. Who else but Jeff Olsson?
I was feeling an odd sort of lazy so instead of looking for his email address, I decide to go to his blog and leave a note. Also, if there is no non-flash version and other people see the note, maybe they will tell CFI to do something.
So, Google: jeffrey olsson blog winnipeg
Yahoo: Hay must be a score. First item:
Read Jeff 's Blog. Jeff Olsson's Blog @ Blogspot.com. AVAILABLE ... This story was written by Jeff rey Olsson, a former Anglican Priest living in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
There are a lot of other links - and the usual flood of Gem Newman links. And – jeffolson.com is another unmaintained blog.
Donna comes in and says "it's called leave faith behind" like everyone knows that. But not everyone is going to know that. Unless you are one of the cognoscenti (like Donna), not knowing this is a problem even Google cannot solve..
Just so you are not led into frustration:
Upcoming Meetings &c
2011 Jan 03
The AGM is on Saturday January 8 at Canad Inns Polo Park, Room L.
The AGM is followed by our regular monthly meeting at 6pm in the same location (membership not required).
Jeff Olsson, HAM's current president, is the speaker - How Do We Know Anything + Africa. He assured us there will be pictures. After that, dinner in Aalto's - bring money (prices reasonable, buffet option, licensed).
Further in the future, we have plans to bring in a couple of notable speakers in our ongoing competition with Fargo's Red River Freethinkers in popularizing our godless views. [No, its not really a competition - more mutual inspiration]. More information to come, but it will be associated with yet another atheist film festival this summer.
That December 21-Jan 1 holiday season that some call Christmas, some call holidays, and most just enjoy whatever you want to call it, has come and gone. To you and yours - hope the weight gain wasn't too severe.
HAM Elections and other good stuff
2010 Nov 15
Every year, in January, HAM holds its Annual General Meeting (AGM). This is where you the members get to participate by voting people into various positions. Not all positions are up (they are 2 year posts).
If you think you fit either position or know someone who does, please notify any of the current execs. To qualify as a runner, you must be a paid-up member for at least the previous 6 months.
Open positions are:
Neil Schipper is stepping down from the vice-presidency, opening up that position.
Donna Harris has tentatively put her name on that ballot if there is someone willing to take on the newsletter editor position.
Incumbents can still be nominated for another run.
You could be nominated.
How it works
The AGM takes about an hour. When it is over, the regular monthly meeting starts. If you were coming anyway, just come an hour early (exact schedule to be posted). If you have never or rarely come to a meeting, this would be a good one to attend.
Location will be Canad Inns Polo Park. When? January 8, exact time TBD.
Some HAM notes
HAM now has over 90 members from all walks of life. I am regularly surprised by the insight and talent of the HAMsters I meet, regardless of their background. If you are a Humanist, you undoubtedly have a lot to offer. Your joining us would further enrich the organization – good people too busy with much more interesting stuff than religion. It'll be fun.
So what is a humanist?
We have the long version on the Values page. A compressed version: Humanists hold that:
* Base on a complaint suggesting that 'ethos' is n/a (which it is), striken. Despite the views of some that animals are merely animated meat, I still hold that many animals actually give a damn about others, not just kin and not even just in species. If indeed animals really are just animated meat, so are we.
Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre
They recently emailed us about an event they are a part of - the Manitoba Mining and Minerals Convention on Saturday morning, November 20. Great stuff for the rock hound or the fossil hound.
Solstice party location and time is confirmed:
It is a social evening with games and maybe entertainment (working on that), and prizes.
Just got back from the monthly meeting at Canad Inn Polo Park. About 40 people had a listen to a great talk on skepticism by Gem Newman. Fascinating from beginning to end. Looked like it was a good mix of HAM and Winnipeg Skeptics people, plus a few looking in for the first time.
2010 Nov 6
The November HAM newsletter is available on line, along with earlier newsletters. There are excellent articles on our October meeting presenters on the Rainbow Resource Centre and their own experiences, SkeptiCamp, Donna's review of the book 'In the Land of Believers', and more.
Don't forget the upcoming meeting on November 13 (5:30pm). Now at our new usual place - Canad Inn Polo Park.
2010 Nov 6
The ongoing tragedy of Islamist terror goes on. It has created a great divide in Western society. Some lump all Muslims together with the Islamists, while others put on the rose colored glasses and say that any word against Islam is hate speech - no matter what the body count.
Both are wrong. Salim Mansur is a Muslim columnnist who often writes on such issues from the perspective of a moderate. He often points out that moderate Muslims just don't speak out on the horror some Muslims inflict. Yet he does, and does it with considerable eloquence. His latest piece is on the recent attack on a Christian church in Baghdad (Winnipeg Sun column here).It is as often Islamists blowing up mosques, which is just as tragic. Yet many people willfully ignore these things, or as he writes: The non-Muslim world is increasingly not surprised and unmoved by the depravity of Muslim jihadis committing outrage, one after another without end in sight, ....
It does not help to either demonize Muslims or ignore/whitewash these events. If you would have it stop, have peace and tolerance, you must do two things. The first seems to be the most difficult but the second will sometimes get you into trouble.
There has never been change for the better until someone has gotten po'd with the status quo, stood up and said (often at risk of harm, hate, or ridicule) "this is wrong, and we have to do something about it." Yet if the gift of modern (post 9/11) culture has given us anything, it has given us the gift of learned helplessness. I personally am not hopeful there can be any improvement. The next stage after learned helplessness is the Stockholm syndrome, and if you look you can see it becoming the new realpolitik.
We can do better than this.
2010 Oct 10
The second Saturday of the month is our usual meeting day, but this time we shifted it to a week later (October 16) as the thanksgiving weekend often makes attendance difficult. So several people showed up on the 9th anyway. Doh! Tradition is a powerful thing. We will be back to the 2nd Saturday next month.
So be marking your calendar: October 16. Just this once.
The 2010 October newsletter is available on line.
Venues: At the last exec meeting a vote was taken on having a more permanent location. Canad Inns won over Aqua Books by a small margin. The main reason is that the sitting-at-tables format is better for engaging with other/new members socially. The only issue is that we have not yet had a meeting at Canad Inns. Aqua Books is still looking good for events in which the theatre style works best (presentation centric) and possibly special events of other kinds.
You may have come across yet another place for our monthly meetings. If you have a forum account, post a suggestion. Or talk to one of the execs at a meetng.
Future Tech: If your eyes glaze over at technical stuff, skip this.
Some time ago an admin feature was added so other execs (Myrna, Donna) could add and update events without needing to hand-edit html or php code. This has worked out well. I and others thought it would be good if execs or other designates could add other types of content.
With that in mind I explored various possibilities including more hand-crafted php, a framework such as CodeIgniter, a high-end CMS such as Drupal or Joomla, and Wordpress. Time constraints eliminate both Code Igniter and scratch coding. A caching issue with Joomla (tested) and Drupal (likely) that causes page load delays on low traffic sites omit them despite being most wonderful from all other perspectives. That leaves us with Wordpress. After gaining some experience with it in my day job, it looks like a natural. It has come a long way from being a simple blogging tool. It supports CSS layouts, is strong on accessibility, is easy to re-theme, and it is quick to load. It is also easy to write specialized modules or plugins that use the extensive Wordpress library to quickly create new features.
How good can it get? A few moths ago I did an informal comparison of 17 humanist sites in Canada. Two Wordpress-based sites stood out as excellent examples (both in French): Mouvement laïque québécois and Association Humaniste du Québec. If only I could read them!
Anyone who wants to add/edit will need some how-to training (not too serious). But no hurry. We will still have to map out the site and copy existing content into the Wordpress version on a seperate server. Overall time frame - a few months. Suggestions welcome.
Catchup - short takes
2010 Sep 26
Winnipeg Skeptics is a friend of HAM, providing a fun, social, and educational group for skeptics in the community. It may come to pass that will will have a joint booth in a place known for booths strong on alternative "medicine" and religious hardliners.
Anyway, they are hosting, on October 23, an event called SkeptiCamp which you can find more about at the SkeptiCamp wiki.
Red River Freethinkers
Several of us attended the Red River Freethinkers Project 42 convention in Fargo on September 18. We had breakfast with Brian Keith Dalton. aka Mr Deity - and that was a real pleasure. All the speakers were great (P Z Meyers, August Berkshire, Annie Laurie Gaylor, and Dan Barker).
Mr Deity had serious problem with the projector, which kept shutting down on every transition. As a measure of his ability as an entertainer and presenter, he delivered a fun and fascinating talk.
HAM meeting at Aqua Books
Our last meeting featured Dr. Rhonda Martens of the University of Manitoba on "Science, Religion and Kepler". Turnout was good, with about half the attendees being members of local astronomy groups and/or her students. More info in the September 2010 Newletter.
HAM could develop a popular science-based reputation if we invite more speakers like her.
M.A.S.H Film Festival
Turned out to be very popular. Swag was sold (including t-shirts in my size - a rarity). This was on August 15.
The festival is not part of HAM, but is a HAM-sponsored event. We are planning another one next year.
Next HAM Meeting
October 16, Canad Inss at Polo Park. More details to follow.
Canada has a state church
Jeff Olsson contributed to the authorship of the Copenhagen Declaration. On telling me about it, I learned that little factoid. He also pointed out that the Copenhagen Declaration addresses countries which:
That is, we hear so much about American separation of church and state, but most of the suggestions made are useless to the rest of us because separation of church and state is not in any of our constitutional documents. As distasteful and (to me) barbaric as it is, governments giving money to religions to advocate themselves and try to convert people is legal.
This ties our hands for certain activities. Americans can take their local, state and federal govermments to court to remove "ten commandments" displays off government property and have a chance of winning on constitutional grounds. We cannot.
All we can really do is exert pressure by calling on and emailing our representatives, writing letters to the editor, and so on. And to speak with one voice – and that is what the Copenhagen Declaration can help us with.
The Sad Fact
From the Constitution Act, 1982 (Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms):
Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law:
This is a gift from then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. The Constitution Act of 1867 (orig: BNA Act) has no god reference in it.
And this intro in the Canadian Bill of Rights in 1985:
The Parliament of Canada, affirming that the Canadian Nation is founded upon principles that acknowledge the supremacy of God…
The only affirming is on the 1982 god claim since Canada’s original foundation was on the godless BNA act.
The US led us in moving away from their godless consitutions and laws in the 1950s, including the addition of the 'in god we trust' phrase on their currency. The 1980s saw Canada catch up to the US with our constitutional additions. Currently, Canada continues the slide into religion while the US is starting to claw its way out.
To update Burke’s quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of religion over reason is that good men and women do nothing.”
Newsletter and other good stuff
July and June
The July 2010 HAM Newsletter is available for download.
The June 2010 HAM Newsletter is available for download.
2010 May 13
The May 2010 HAM Newsletter is available for download.
2010 April 4
The April 2010 HAM Newsletter is available for download. Good stuff:
Nellie McClung (1873-1951)
She was the most prominent of several people, men and women, who tilted at the windmill of law and culture dedicated to keeping women down. And they won, winning the vote for women. Now we will be getting a statue of her in Winnipeg. More details at: WFP article "Paying out respects to Nellie McClung".
Her efforts led, in 1916, to women gaining the right to vote and run for office. In Manitoba. Nationally, that would have to wait as Federal law stated that people bannned from voting in their province of residence where also banned from voting federally. Egregious laws such as BC's 1908 Minicipal Elections Act was still in force - No Chinese, Japanese, or other "Asiatic" or Indian person was entitled to vote in any municipal election. This was repeated for Chinese people in Saskatchewan in 1909.
It was not until 1920 that the federal government gave the vote to women unconditionally. Aboriginals and various minorities would have to wait a bit longer. A tug-of-war of provincial vs federal voting laws took place for most of the rest of the century, culminating in Aboriginals getting the vote in 1960 (by federal statute), and prisoners in 1993 (by judge made law).
Nellie McClung and people sharing her dedication and vision for a just and egalitarian society fought long and hard for voting rights. You can Google Nellie McClung for more about her and her crusade. An excellent timeline of voting rights and denial in Canada is at http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/en/browseSubjects/votingRights.asp.
More than YFC
2010 Mar 29 - Godless in Manitoba? Go directly to jail.
Our governments force religion on us in other areas as well. While our constitution says you can in any context swear an oath without any god reference, it seems to stop there. Consider this:
On November 15, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that AA is indeed religious in nature. An AA meeting is essentially a devotional service. The "higher power" receives worship; confession is heard; testimony is given; the group invokes the Serenity Prayer and the Lord's Prayer. The 12th Step instructs AA members to go forth and Spread the Word.
Our provincially funded AFM (Addictions Foundation of Manitoba) uses a religious 12 step progam modelled on AA. They prefer the term "spiritual" but that is just a weasel word for "higher power", a.k.a. god.
The implication is that our courts often force people to participate in religious programs offered by AA and AFM. That is, sentenced to accept "God", whatever that is - full blown fantasy if you are an atheist. If you decline to participate in these religious programs, you can and will be jailed.
This is a barbaric situation. The AA/AFM people will tell you theirs is the only (read: One True) way. However, alternatives exist, and with equal or higher success rates. Two are:
You can view Penn and Teller's take on 12 step programs at AddictionInfo.org. The video is in three parts and in reverse order, so keep scrolling until you are at #1 of 3. Useful for the interviews and is much less of a slapfest than their usual material.
Jeff Olsson has a piece on it in our newsletter April 2010 HAM Newsletter, written independently of this one. Fighting this is a battle that needs to be waged.
The HAM March 2010 newsletter is out. Highlights include:
There is no page (that I could find) on the City of Winnipeg website that gives a list of how councillors voted. I found the results in Hansard at http://www.winnipeg.ca/CLKDMIS/DocSearch.asp?CommitteeType=C&DocumentType=D. A long slog through Hansard (the transcription of open council meetings) for February 24 shows a lot of problems with and opposition to the YFC funding. Anyway, here is the vote from page 42:
Lest you think "Pay to Proselytize" is just a smartass comment on my part (Grant), take a look at the YFC Canada website About Us page and you find their sole reason for being is conversions. Nowhere does it mention helping anyone in any other context. YFC says they welcome non-Christians. Of course they do – who ya gonna convert?
Compare an organization like Siloam Mission (Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun did, but failed at it). Siloam's mission is to help others. They believe they are serving God by doing so. What a wonderful concept. I can never fault them, and if the city cut them a cheque to fulfill that mission, I could not object. Siloam's mission is exactly the opposite of YFCs mission. Too bad so many city councillors could not see that.
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