• religion,  the ethical life

    William Morris and Jane Austen: Lens for Literature

    I’m reading about William Morris, the 19th century designer and socialist. His company rejected the assembly line in favor of treating every creation like a work of art to be done by one person from start to finish. Morris learned old techniques and reinvented lost techniques. He hoped that as people saw the great quality products they would shun the cheaper mass-produced goods, but of course this didn’t happen and instead other companies produced cheap knock-offs of his work. I first heard of him years ago at university, when I was busy fingerweaving Metis-style sashes, which gave me at least a bit of a feel for the time involved in…

  • books,  geekiness

    images of giftedness in G. K. Chesterton

    I’m on a G. K. Chesterton binge right now, reading a variety of his books. Reading the books is a refreshing exercise. I have to concentrate on it. One cannot skim his books. Each sentence has such meaning and yet each gets more meaning from the sentences around it. That seems such an obvious thing to say. but it really I can read a paragraph or two and then sit and reflect upon what it means. I keep finding within Chesteron’s works descriptions about intellectual giftedness. Since the challenge of being a gifted adult is a topic of interest to me, I thought I’d share these passages with you. From the…

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

    more reflections on free speech

    I’m still slowly reading a big book about 17th century arguments for and against religious tolerance. It is called John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture by John Marshall. I’m really not used to being stuck in the middle of one book for this long, but it seems like the kids are still always talking to me or climbing on me, and this book requires some concentration to be able to follow it. The book is worth reading though. I’m enjoying learning about the different arguments. I’m enjoying reflecting on it in light of questions about free speech. Arguments for toleration often exist in response to specific arguments against toleration.…

  • activism,  politics

    free speech and fair play

    I’ve been fascinated by discussions of free speech recently. Now even a right-wing American group has decided to uninvite a horrid right-wing troll from speaking at their event. The topic of his speech was supposed free speech and how the left is trying to curtail it, but apparently since it has come out that he advocates pedophilia even the right wing want to limit his freedom of speech – or at least, not to host his speech. So apparently there are standards, after which a person is disgusting enough they should be no-platformed. Dru Oja Jay said it wonderfully: “The fall of Milo is heartening, in that it shows that…

  • politics

    recognizing racism in Northern Ontario

    So there’s a story around here about a company promoting ice huts that said in their ad: “Please no status card users! You are not welcome in our huts. Equality for all or you will not get the time of day from us and will lose any deposit paid to us.” Since the uproar over it the owner has tried to claim he was just saying that everyone (including natives) has to abide by fishing regulations at his huts (even though legally those fishing regulations don’t apply to natives). I‘m watching on the local news as commenters try to defend the guy, claiming that the owner wasn’t racist he just…

  • homeschooling

    stopping the (home)school work struggle

    One struggle I’ve faced homeschooling – and I know others face it too – is getting a child to do schoolwork when the child would prefer to whine, fuss and procrastinate. I’ve seen it discussed on homeschool forums and noticed a number of people suggesting two things: switching curriculum or going to unschooling. I want to talk about why those aren’t great solutions and what I would suggest instead. Switching curriculum is not a solution because although the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it isn’t magical. Curriculum is a bit like a relationship. In the excitement of falling in love with something new, we…

  • #idlenomore,  accepting criticism,  Uncategorized

    reflections on history and this December 19th

    Today I fend of depression by immersing myself in obscure books about the 1680s. It was a very bizarre time when Anglicans in England feared the king’s religious tolerance. After all, they were used to being the ones allowed to not tolerate others. Maybe we can see it a bit like when the Conservative Christians acted as though allowing gay marriage was going to mean forcing them all to billet gay honey-mooners in their house indefinitely. Except for the Anglicans that sort of was a possibility, whereas for Conservative Christians the worst they were being asked was to ignore the circumstances in which a cake they bake would be eaten…

  • politics

    December 6th – day of mourning for victims of men’s violence against women.

    Today is December 6th. In Canada we remember the women killed this year in a massacre at École Polytechnique. Women were killed because they were women seeking training and jobs in a field that a deranged man considered to be the territory of men. I think about when I was a young child, how I dreamed of being a doctor and a lawyer. I was suprised in grade five by a school assignment where we had to research a field of employment traditionally employed by the opposite gender. It surprised me to find that those two careers were seen (at least by my teacher) as being traditionally mens. I thought,…

  • politics

    responding to those who voted for Trump

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions of what it means to vote for Trump and who the Trump supporters are. I’ve seen lots of posts about how Trump won because he spoke to the working class, and the working class wants change and human dignity. There are some who say that making this about race and homophobia is a mistake… that it is an attempt to tarnish the good people who voted for Trump, to write them off as “deplorables” rather than to hear their legitimate concerns. On the other hand, we now have Christian supremists and probably white surpremists working in the white house. Can we really…

  • activism,  history,  politics,  the ethical life

    Optimism vs Hope

    I’m thinking about the difference between optimism and hope. One can be optimistic because one believes things will go well. In some cases optimism is good and natural. However optimism can also be due to a lack of information about the potential problems or because one deliberately rejects the facts that disagrees with one. Therefore optimism itself is not a virtue. We should not be trying to “choose optimism” when the situation does not warrant it. I picture NASA scientists preparing for a rocket launch. We want them to be optimistic because all the tests, models and simulations suggest they will be suc…cessful. We would not want them to “choose optimism”…