Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Science Unites – Religion Divides

Thursday, December 23, 2010 12:38 pm 1 comment


Why?  Because 1+1 gives you the same value in China, or in Japan, or in the U.S. or in Saudia Arabia, Africa, or South America.    God is different across cultural, racial, national and individual boundaries.


Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 189 – PodCursing Meetup

Monday, December 20, 2010 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Listen to the show :

Vachon Cakes Associated with Quebecois

When the Scarborough Dude shows up, you can bet that the conversation will not be safe for work and the podcaster meetup in December was no exception.  We start out discussing C words, the W and T word, J word, D word and F word. We then effortlessly move onto the discussion of violence – domestic and workplace.  Talking out of my ass, I refer to bill 184, but what I really meant was bill 168. This bill came into affect on June 15 2010 and amends the Occupational Health and Safety Act specifically with respect to violence and harassment in the workplace. Bill 184 is an act to amend the floral emblem act – not remotely related to workplace harassment or violence. I for one come away less closer than I expected to a working definition of psychological versus physical violence.

So you are forewarned. Don’t play it full blast at your cube or within ear’s reach of your mother or nana.

Political issues discussed: Nanny State, Treason, The FLQ crisis, Pierre LaPorte, and Julian Assange.   Fictional heros mentioned: Lisbeth Salander. Deserts mentioned in a pejorative way : May West, the uniquely Canadian fluffy cake snack, not the film and entertainment sex symbol of the early 20th century.

Podcasters present:  ValerieThe Dude, The Dude Again with Brent, Closet Geek (Brent)

Listen to the show:

Mr. Scary Corn Nuts

Sunday, July 19, 2009 10:34 pm Leave a comment


People? Social skills?

On Friday night Special K and I went to see a film and were amazed to be sitting beside a rather large-ish fellow who pulled out a deli-tub of corn nuts before the movie started and began to eat them. He dug his hand into the tub over and over, scooping out handfuls of nuts. Using his fist as a funnel, he closed his eyes and poured the nuts into his upturned corn-nut hole.  This prelude was followed by fierce crunching noises as he chewed while the rest of the us around him looked on in a mixture of amusement, fascination, horror and derision.

Do you have any idea how a corn nut crunch sounds in a darkened quiet theatre?  He proceeded to eat the entire tub without regard for any of the other members of the audience.  Several people moved away in disgust, others were looking back at him or over at him and yet, the fellow remained oblivious and non-plussed. When he finally finished The Tub, Special K said, “Thank god it’s over”. “Oh it’s not over. Not by a long shot. I think that bag there with him is full of food.”  I don’t know if he got the message, but he was fairly silent throughout the film except that he shifted around noisily and pulled out several plastic bottles of water which he held above his head and poured the liquid into his throat.

I think these people believe it is actually ok to behave as though they are alone in their living rooms.

“Peace Is a Resistance to the Terrible Satisfactions of War” – Judith Butler

Sunday, November 30, 2008 10:12 pm Leave a comment

Collateral DamageOn Sunday Morning the weekly CBC televsion newsmagazine, a Montreal actor and dubbing director, Michael Rudder, was interviewed from his hospital bed in Bombay.  He’d been shot at least four times last week in the Mumbai attacks.  He was shot in the arm, the leg, the buttocks and as of this writing, there is still a bullet lodged in his stomach.  Eating in the Oberoi hotel restaurant, he had heard shots and asked about them.  He was told by restaurant employees, that it was only gangsters.  A strange remark indeed.   (As strange as the remarks made during a Mexican murder aftermath in 2006.  Then, Mexican officials publically declared that an Italian couple killed in a resort near Playa del Carmen was the work of Canadian mobster hit women from Thunder Bay. That murder is another act of violence that outrages me.) Rudder doesn’t understand why, but assumed he and his party were not in danger.   Moments later he and the patrons found themselves in a hailstorm of bullets. He believes that extremism is on the rise. I think that this is nonsense. Extremism just is and sometimes it causes loss of life.

With innocence still and perhaps naivety Rudder continues in the interview, ” long as people think that their hatred is more powerful than the wisdom that their mothers’ would have taught them…they will respond in such ways.”  This sentiment, of course, assumes that their mothers have a wisdom that prevents hatred. In my skepticism, I am not so sure that is true.   I could exercise a generosity of interpretation and suppose that “mothers’ wisdom” is a symbol for an attitude of peace, love and nuturance. In that case his statement is very much worth thinking about. But who is teaching the attitude?   I am not sure that human nature has changed in all of recorded history and I fear that the chance of that happening is very slim.  Every second a new baby on this planet is born, a stranger in a hostile land, a tabula rasa that his or her culture and economic position will imprint itself on, forever repeating the same patterns be they for good or ill.

Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s humanity.  That’s what we do generation after generation. We hate and fear the other and seeking vengence for real or perceived affronts is very human.   The philosopher, Judith Butler, discusses revenge in a 2003 interview in The Believer Magazine.  She says that when choosing non-retaliation: “Many people consider that refusing to strike back is a masochistic way of handling oneself when one is in a condition of injury, or that such a refusal is tantamount to political paralysis, but I actually think it is an adamant and vigilant stand, a difficult stand against violence itself.”  She reminds us that:

War begets war. It produces outraged and humiliated and furious people…it is precisely because we’re constituted with aggression, it’s precisely because we are capable of waging war, and of striking back, and of doing massive injury, that peace becomes a necessity…[Peace] is a commitment to living with a certain kind of vulnerability to others and susceptibility to being wounded that actually gives our individual lives meaning. And I think this way of viewing things is a much harder place to go, so to speak. One can’t just do it alone, either. I think it needs to be institutionalized. It needs to be part of a community ethos. I think in fact it needs to be part of an entire foreign policy.

I think these are the things we should be teaching our children.

In My Next Life I Hope I am a Hacker

Wednesday, November 12, 2008 9:31 pm Leave a comment

From the website

Put simply, net neutrality means non-discriminatory treatment of traffic. That is, outside of limited exceptions such as spam and known viruses, the companies that deliver information over the internet have treated all information the same, delivering each package of information as quickly and efficiently as possible (often referred to as the “best efforts” internet). Under this regime an internet user is free to use any equipment, content, application or service on a non-discriminatory basis without interference from the network provider. Network neutrality means that the network provider’s only job is to move data – not to choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

Legislation against net neutrality is not as simple as censorship if governments get their way.  Censorship is just an evil by-product.  It’s all about making a buck.  The less net neutrality we have, the more ways to charge me for use of the web.  But since there is more than one way to solve a problem, I shall just wait for the hackers to get around it.  And get around it they will.   In the meantime – please help save our net.

A Bus Full of Heros – Rest In Peace Tim McLean

Monday, August 4, 2008 1:46 pm 6 comments

There seems to be a lot of criticism leveled against the passengers of the Greybound bus traveling en route from Brandon, Manitoba to Winnipeg last Wednesday night during which a man was brutally murdered and his body defiled. The criticism seems to be that they did not do enough; did not try hard enough to stop Li.  I cannot imagine in my wildest dreams, or perhaps nightmares, how I would have reacted had I been one of the passengers. But I do know one thing: Garnet Caton, the bus driver, and the truck driver who stopped to help them, are heroes. Caton, it seems, acted according to what his instinct dictated in the moment. He and likely several others did what they could only do as a reaction – get off the bus and ensure the safety of all the remaining passengers, including themselves. Then once off the bus, and when the truck driver stopped to help them, a regrouping and reassessment seemed to have been done. Caton, the bus driver, and the truck driver reboarded the bus. By this time, Li was already in the process of decapitating the victim. What else could Caton’s party then do? It was too late for Tim, a horror beyond tragic. The three had to exit and ensure the safety of everyone else, until the RCMP arrived, by securing the door.

There is a tendency to compare this situation with other events where a more positive result may have occured, but even as one blogger says,

…the way that people will behave in these situations is, well, situational. The choices that are possible depend on where you are and what is happening. There’s no overall story of civilization to be told here. In both cases, the victims and witnesses did the best they could in the circumstances in which they found themselves. They all acted remarkably bravely; but the differences in the situations permitted them a different set of split-second decisions. It’s really, I think, as simple as that.”

It would not surprise me if Caton is consumed with guilt that he could have done more and that his thoughts are filled right now with “What ifs” and “If onlys”.   The circumstances and development of this situation, dictated the ethics assocated with this one: Do what can be done to ensure the safety of the rest.

There is not one of us, who, when imagining this event, can say for sure what we would have done in any of those passengers’ places.

Over the coming weeks, Caton may be inclined to share more of what he saw, heard, and did – if he can.