• how do we know what we know is true

    The “Merry Christmas” controversy?

    There is a news story about a man in Sudbury who claims he didn’t get as many hours to work at his part time job as a result of his saying Merry Christmas to people. He also quoted Bible verses at his boss, saying that not saying Merry Christmas would be denying Jesus, something he’s not willing to do. The whole story makes me very uncomfortable. People want to claim both that saying “Merry Christmas” is just a little thing no one should be offended by, but also want to claim that it is a religious thing. If it is a religious thing, then why do they expect their employers…

  • history,  homeschooling,  how do we know what we know is true

    continuing my homeschooling discussion of the Renaissance

    The Borgia family gives a “human face” to talking about the power balances. However reading about them in isolation of other Renaissance rulers can make them seem like some sort of anomaly: unethical, power hungry people in a world of decent citizens. In order to broaden my kids understanding of the topic and because my oldest needs a bit of practice in using workbooks I’m having them go through a workbook Renaissance by Patrick Hotle. I’m also sharing with my kids stories I read about other Renaissance families. Caterina Sforza has a particularly fascinating story. Her first husband was Pope Sixtus IV’s nephew Girolamo Riario. Financed by wealthy relatives and…

  • how do we know what we know is true,  science

    parenthood & choices, in my own life and in news stories

    For four days I haven’t had the energy to read anything harder than a novel or write anything at all. I was very physically active during that time, walking more than normal helping my kids rebuild their fort, and getting started on the garden. Emotionally the hard part was helping my children deal with their anger at the neighbouring children who had knocked their fort down, particularly when I was angry myself. I was angry not so much at the knocking down of the fort, but at one neighbouring child’s insistence on denying his involvement even when we had evidence he had been involved. One question one of my children asked me stands…

  • gender,  how do we know what we know is true

    thoughts in response to the “dating tips for feminist men” by Nora Samaran

    I’m neither a feminist man nor in the dating scene, but I found this post about dating tips for feminst men by Nora Samaran very interesting. I love the way it captures some of the ambiguities and challenges of life. Listen to your emotions, trust them, but at the same time know that your emotions might be defensiveness and learn to be uncomfortable. Value others, recognize our interdependance. I like the emphasis about on being honest about emotions (and valuing others emotions). I still struggle with having the courage to be honest about my emotions, and deal with the fear I feel about expressing my emotions. Will other people think I’m…

  • how do we know what we know is true

    the internet can be overstimulating to an obsessive questioner

    Sometimes I find the internet way too overstimulating. There is too much to think about on it, too many arguments I could get pulled into questioning. Even things that seem benign to most people pose weird challenges to me. For example, this morning I get up and on my facebook feed someone has posted a link to a video of little girls dancing. Comments are split with most comments cheering one child for having really “felt the music” but one commenter points out that she admires the girl who tries to go ahead and follow the choreography without worrying about the other girl’s interruption. So I find myself thinking about…

  • Edward's outrageous costumes attract a lot of attention.
    books,  how do we know what we know is true,  parenting

    children talking to strangers

    I was reading an online parenting forum the other day, where people were discussing what age they allow their children to go to the park by themselves and several things struck out to me. Some of the women on that particular forum were recommending checking the sexual offenders lists   as though a predetermined list could tell them whether it is safe or not for their children to be out and about, or who to warn their kids against. I think such lists are useless and cruel as many young men are classified as sexual offenders for statutory rape and are no danger whatsoever to park-going children. Other mothers on the forum were…

  • God,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  religion,  the ethical life

    in pursuit of an academic religion

    I’ve been thinking about religion again. I think about the good things, like the way it can support a person’s ability to acknowledge their mistakes or the inspiration to care for others. Yet I’m also think about the problems with religion, particularily of finding a religious interpretation that can be a source of healthy challenge neither constructed to meet one’s own wants or to justify one’s oppressive situation. Inspiring me to write this post is, partly, a post titled Can reason and secularism protect kids from anti-science rhetoric (and build a better society)? over at a blog called Boreal Citizen. The post speaks about Democratic anti-science rhetoric being centered around unsupported fears…

  • communication,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  the ethical life

    thoughts about thoughts

    I just started reading the book The Curious Feminist by Cynthia Enloe and the first page includes this gem: I have come to think that the capacity to be surprised – and to admit it – is an undervalued feminist attribute. To be surprised is to have one’s current explanatory notions, and thus one’s predictive assumptions, thrown into confusion. In both academic life and activist public life in most cultures, one is socialized to deny surprise. It is as if admitting surprise jeopardized one’s hard-earned credibility. And credibility, something necessarily bestowed by others, is the bedrock of status. … Better to assume the “Oh, well, of course it would turn out like that” pose. …

  • communication,  education,  how do we know what we know is true,  meaning of life,  politics

    Interacting with those we disagree with

    What do you do with people you don’t agree with? Do you agree to keep quiet about the topics you disagree on? Do you cut them out of your life? Or keep them in your life but with a mental note not to take seriously any of their opinions? Do you argue incessantly? These questions permeate my life. Perhaps it is because I hold strong opinions about things. I care about a great variety of issues which means I have lots I could potentially disagree with people on. I notice subtle implications of things so I disagree with things other people think mundane.  Yet I think another reason the questions…

  • how do we know what we know is true,  parenting,  politics,  science

    vaccines and the selling of fear, distrust and a sense of superiority

    I read an article today about a family in New Zealand where a young boy came down with tetanus. His father is speaking out about their decision not to vaccinate, admitting that it was the wrong decision and hoping to spare others the pain they have had to suffer. The following stuck out to me: He’s not stupid. If anything, he was just a little bit too smart for his own good. The Williams are the one in 10 parents who opt out when it comes to vaccination, not out of ignorance, but because they think they know everything. Williams said they believed they’d done their research but now admits…