• communication,  culture,  politics

    Thoughts on a City Council Meeting

    I went yesterday to a city council meeting. I was there with just over 30 people to watch the passing of a motion to have our city council request that the provincial government reverse the cuts to the Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit. So the part I was there for took all of three minutes and was passed with the full support of the council. Pretty dull, but good to have done. Of course it wasn’t the first thing on the agenda, so I had quite a bit of time to sit and watch as the council went through its other agenda items. The first of the agenda items…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  meaning of life,  politics

    Personal Responsibility in the Age of Unlimited Choices

    Have you ever heard of “cafeteria religion”? The term refers to the idea of people treating religion like a buffet table where they can pick and choose what parts they want rather than accept someone else’s menu. It is an idea I’ve had trouble with for a while. On one hand I can see definite problems with the pick-and-choose idea. How can truth be truth if the measure of it is what you want to accept or not? On the other hand, what’s the alternative? Even those who belong to reasonably strict churches or religions are just following the beliefs someone else has chosen to dish-up. With so many religious…

  • books,  communication,  meaning of life,  money,  politics,  the ethical life

    safety, efficiency, cost of human lives and work

    My children watched part of Back to the Future III a few days ago and afterwards expressed surprise at the amount of walking on train tracks that happens in the show. “Isn’t that dangerous?” they asked and I fumbled to explain how the absolute risk wasn’t that high but that it was still a completely unnecessary risk, and thus why we don’t do it. Then I was watching an episode of Star Trek Deep Space 9 and noting the scenes where the two kids, Jake and Nog, are always sitting on the balcony above the promenade, dangling their legs down, and all I could think of watching it is, why…

  • communication,  meaning of life,  Occupy,  the ethical life

    trying to understand yesterday

    Even in my sleep I over analyze things. The other night I dreamed that I was a government bureaucrat for the Nazis. In my dream I knew I had a choice between getting myself thrown into a prison camp right away for standing up for what I knew was right, or I could try to survive in the job and use my position to help others. In my dream I didn’t feel fear for myself, just a question of what would be best for others. After all, I thought, the job would be done by someone and if I was doing it maybe I could help smuggle Jewish families out…

  • books,  communication

    Book Review: Morris the Village Voice

    Morris The Village Voice, by Doris Rueger, is a children’s book written from the perspective of an advertising column. The column stands in the main square, witnessing the events of the village and providing a place for people to put up their signs and announce upcoming events. Unfortunately time, pigeons and dogs take their toll on the column and the mayor and advertising committee start planning to replace Morris with a glitzy billboard. Will the children and their parents be able to save Morris? A village advertising column provides an interesting center for a book. It can’t move (other than rotating on its motor) and it doesn’t speak much though its…

  • books,  communication,  culture,  God,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    A book about the Harry Potter books, and the many questions they invoke.

    My current light-reading is the book Harry Potter and the Bible: The Menance behind the Magick by Richard Abanes. In some ways it is a very weird book for me to read because I do not share the author’s conservative Christian religious beliefs. Why then should I concern myself with the criticisms he has of Harry Potter based on those religious beliefs? I am drawn to the book for the chance to see a little window into the ideas of others. How does his understanding of the Bible effect his understanding of Harry Potter? How does his understanding of Harry Potter help me understand my own views of the world? Much of the book ends…

  • books,  communication,  meaning of life,  religion

    Challenges of Communication

    Many Moons is a children’s story by James Thurber. Princess Lenora is sick and only being granted her wish will cure her. What does she wish for? The moon! Advisor after advisor described how much they have already accomplished for the king and why they can’t get the moon for him. Only the jester has the answer; noting that each advisor describes a different moon he suggests that they ask Princess Lenora what she thinks the moon is. Her moon is neither rock nor green cheese. It is golden, about the size of her fingernail, fairly easy for them to procure for her but will she mind that the other moon…

  • books,  communication,  the ethical life

    Great Book: Mistakes Were Made (but not by me)

    I’ve always been fascinated by disagreements and alternative perspectives on things, so I’m greatly enjoying reading the book Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Travris and Elliot Aronson. The subtitle to the book is “Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts.” One of the key metaphors in the book is of a decision being like the tip of a pyramid. At some point a person might be uncertain about which way he or she will go. Once a person makes a decision and starts down that one side of the pyramid the person will be constantly attempting to justify the decision. Whereas before the choice is…

  • communication,  politics

    politics, homeschooling and the challenges of communication

    On Monday I was driving a stranger to the polls and she asked about the children in the backseat of the car, and why they weren’t in school. When I said they were homeschooled, she smiled and said “now I know what religion you are” as though all homeschoolers are one religion. I smiled but didn’t respond to that. A few minutes later she told me that if she had young children now, she would homeschool them, because of all the bad things happening in schools these days. I admitted honestly I don’t know at all what happens in schools these days. I didn’t want to get into explaining the…