A Skeptical Blast from the Past

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Sorry folks. No new posts from me, I know. I feel like there may be more coming in the near future, but don’t hold me to that. Just waiting for the blog-urge to swell again.

In the meantime, I was looking through some old music this week and came across one of of my favourite artists: MC 900 Ft Jesus. In the following song, one of the sillier experiments in the artist’s daring portfolio, there seems to be a message that I somehow missed in my youth; and one that I’m very glad to discover now.

As a card-carrying skeptic, somebody who’s alarmed by the prevalence of postmodern “personal realities” in our culture, a person campaigning for belief based on evidence; the lyrics of this tune seem even more appropriate now than when it was released.

Could we have a new, albeit old, skeptical anthem?

Making Skulls

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Hi there haunters! (the small percentage of this blog’s readers who care about Halloween, anyway)

To be brief, I did a 3 part tutorial series on YouTube over the last few weeks, so I wanted to collect them in one place. If you’d like to know how to make something like the image above, have a watch!

First, a prelude.

And now, the tutorial itself.

Saw a comet. Froze my ass.

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I stood out under the stars tonight, freezing my tender regions, in search of a comet.

Comet PANSTARRS made another appearance this evening, and some of the folks from the local astronomy association e-mailed to say they’d be meeting in a local school field.

I must admit that I debated the trip before embarking on it. The air carried a definite bite, and I wondered how much better the object could possibly look through binoculars than seeing it on the internet.

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Update on this Blog and my unbelief

Well howdy folks. Been a spell.

So, obviously I’ve lost my passion for maintaining this blog, and therefore I should apologize to those few among you who call yourself fans. While a part of me wants to keep the conversation that we started going, my enthusiasm for writing seems to have drifted away.

I’ve also let my Twitter account go fallow, and have strayed from the public discussion of topics like skepticism, secularism, and rationality. While I still care about these issues, I’ve felt less of a need to defend or argue them recently. I’m still not sure why. 

There’s also other news. Posterous, the blogging service that this site dwells on, is shutting down. I have until April 30th to back up and re-host this website – a task beyond my current internet skills – or it will be gone forever.

I hope to employ the assistance of a few web savvy friends, and at least do what’s needed to keep the site alive, if only to preserve the back-catalogue of popular content; but I’m not sure where to go from there. Perhaps I’m done as a blogger, or perhaps, I’m just waiting for some new inspiration.

Maybe new subject matter is over the horizon; subject matter which will stimulate all sorts of joyous blog-blabbery from yours truly. If anything occurs to me that brings both a smile to my face, and my fingers to the keyboard, you’ll all be the first to know. 

That being said, today I want to share something that pissed me off.

g away from this blog has meant being less outspoken on issues such as religion. Some newer friends on social media may be unaware of my feelings on such matters. To them, if they’re so inclined, I invite a look back through

catalogue. (while it lasts, anyway)
But just to be clear: I do not believe in anything supernatural, least of all an omnipotent author of the universe. I have felt this way since I was quite young, and I arrived at that conclusion via a simple logical concept. I couldn’t have named it at the time, but it has always ruled my thinking.

That concept is called Occam’s razor, and it means is that the simplest answer is almost always the right one. 

There just isn’t any good reason to think there should be gods in this universe. It’s an unnecessarily complicated proposition; and maintaining faith in it requires the endless pulling of strings. I lean instead to the simplest proposition, and away from preposterous ones.

But the faith of others doesn’t bother me, and it wasn’t what ticked me off today. The ridiculous meme presented in the image above is offensive for an entirely different reason, because it reminds me of one of the ugliest concepts ever put forth by organized religion: that being the idea of sin.

Before I strayed from the church I was a catholic, and as a boy I was haunted by the concept of sin. Not only was I told that I was a sinner from birth, but that if I just so happened to die without being forgiven, I would perish in hell.

I fully believed this stuff was real, and yet as a young boy I just couldn’t help but continue sinning. I was forever promising God that one day I’d right the ship, and start living a flawless life, and yet I feared I might not be up to the task.

But what a strange concept: “Good people don’t go to heaven. Forgiven people do.” 

What a bizarre idea. Here it is suggested that being a considerate citizen of this planet, doing good things for yourself and others, refraining from harm and helping where you can; none of this is as important as being forgiven for your transgressions.

It’s a perfect example of the surrender of intellect required by religion: your activities on this world are nowhere near as important as God’s recognition of them. Your own innate sense of right and wrong is insufficient; surrender appraisal of your life to an intellectual better in the sky; one that you have to take on faith is even listening.

It just make me angry, the concept that we should surrender any portion of our thinking self; that any intellectual concept is unavailable to be explored. That any institution should dare to tell me, or anyone, what and how to think.

Rant over. Let’s hope this blog isn’t.

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Update on this blog and my unbelief

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Some frank talk about the future of this blog, and some religuous propoganda that got my goat.


Well howdy folks. Been a spell.

So, obviously I’ve lost my passion for this blog, and I should apologize to those few among you who call yourself fans. While a part of me wants to keep the conversation that we started going, over the last year and change my enthusiasm for writing seems to have drifted away.

I’ve also let my Twitter account go fallow, and have strayed from the public discussion of topics like skepticism, secularism, and rationality. While I still care about these issues, I’ve felt less of a need to defend or argue them recently. I’m still not sure why.

Read the rest of this entry

Highlights from ‘The Norse; an Arctic Mystery’

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Hi everyone! I mentioned a while back the documentary I was working on, but I never shared any of the footage.

So, apologize in advance for the brevity, but here it is! (a sample of it anyway)

Enjoy!

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/57561480 w=500&h=283]

Some highlights from the animation I created for “The Norse, an Arctic Mystery”, a documentary that aired last November on CBC’s “The Nature of Things” with David Suzuki.

Directed by Andrew Gregg for 90th Parallel Productions. http://90thparallel.ca/

What exactly did you EXPECT to happen?

Alien

So the world didn’t end. Shocking.

Leading up to December 21st, as the apocalypse seemed less likely, the jokes started bubbling to the surface on social media. As the day drew near, folks began to notice a sky conspicuously vacant of Nibiru. The volcanoes weren’t heating up, the sky wasn’t turning green, and people weren’t suffering from lethal cases of Montezuma’s revenge. (the instrument of destruction that I hoped the Mayans would use*)

With the apocalypse looking less imminent than previously feared, folks started to savagely mock the Mayan meme. I’m sure you saw the same thing in your newsfeeds. As my friend Steve Blacker put it: “Man… people are telling end-of-the-world jokes like there’s no tomorrow.”

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So listen. I had friends who bought in to the whole Mayan thing. A number of them, in fact. And I don’t intend to rub their noses init, now that the
*Yes, Montezuma was Aztec… I know. Call it comedic license. 

 

Sandy Hook tragedy

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In 1911 a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City killed 146 people. While tragic, it was also an important and progressive event in history. 

 

While there had been many disastrous fires before it, the Triangle catastrophe somehow brought the world to a tipping point. Public reaction to the tragedy brought about a shift in political will; finally ushering in an age of codes and regulations that have since whittled down deaths by fire to a small fraction of what they once were.

 

I can’t begin to express my own thoughts on what happened today, so I won’t try to. I only hope that this wound won’t quickly pass from America’s public consciousness; that it scars the nation’s collective psyche as deeply as it should.

Maybe then that country can finally pass the tipping point so many people recognize is necessary; and muster the political will to fundamentally change the gun-control debate. 

America, it’s time to address this problem.

Halloween 2012 – An Art Project

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This year I diverted a lot of free time from other hobbies and focused on one project; something you might think a complete waste of time. This year, and I do mean the entire year, I made a haunted house. The following are the details—and my attempt at justifying such behaviour.


Why, you might ask—must a blog about rationality, reason, skepticism, art and astronomy—be so encumbered with posts about… Halloween?

“I used to come here for science, or at least pretty pictures, guldangit! Why is this fool posting stuff about zombies and ghouls that I don’t believe in! I HATE this Brad Blogspeed!”

Whoa. Easy partner. Maybe I should explain my Halloween obsession a little before you write this blog off forever. Perhaps by the end I’ll be able to convince you of the following: that this spooky project was indeed my first ever cross-media art exhibit—something I’ve wanted to do forever—oh-so cleverly disguised as a haunted house.

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Tonight! “The Norse: An Arctic Mystery”

Tonight’s the night! At 8pm, tune in to CBC’s ‘The Nature of Things’.

See my latest bit of animation, woven in to an engrossing story that might just change the history books.

 

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