Saturday, December 31, 2011

Problems with #FirstWorldProblems

Your "First World Problems" are actually just "World Problems".

A bit of an older link, I know, but this hashtag has been bothering me for a damn long time, and I finally found something to say about it.

The term "Third World" has dropped out of use by real geographers and economists who study the differences in economies and social power between the modernized developed world and the still-developing world. Sadly, the views of the average North American are skewed by commercials like these:

Gideon Bibles have no place in Canadian public schools

You'd think you wouldn't have to say that, eh? Well, apparently, it's not as obvious as I'd like.

“I'm not even a Gideon. I'm just a concerned Christian parent in a country that's still 70 per cent Christian,” said Rev. Mark Koehler, pastor at First St. Matthews Lutheran Church in Hanover, Ont.

“We've taken prayer out of school. We can't say certain greetings at Christmas time. We don't want further erosion of our Christian faith and heritage to happen.”

Friday, December 30, 2011

Atheism and equality do not go hand in hand.

Required reading for this post:

Rebecca Watson
Greta Christina
Jason Thibault
Greta again

To summarize: Rebecca Watson notices that assholes on reddit use a 15 year old girl as a sex object, and makes the note that atheists aren't necessarily in favour of equality. Jason points out that it's good that Rebecca shows off how idiotic the atheist movement can still be, reminds us that we are obviously not infallible, and that we should use her ability to really push the assholes out of the woodwork to fix our problems. Greta points out that by minimizing what is going on you're really part of the problem, and then another random asshole threatens her and tells her to shut up.

See, this is a problem, from start to finish, and it's a clear reminder of one simple fact: not believing in a god doesn't equal not being part of the fucking problem. I can't pretend to be perfect, but I try to follow the advice of people like Greta, and Jen, and Rebecca, and make sure that I think about what I say. These sorts of people who sexualize an utterly unsexual and totally inappropriate situation for cheap thrills are pretty low.

But what scares me more is that when attention is called to it by a man, they don't say anything (like when Jason called them out) - but when a woman speaks up (in this case, Greta Christina), they tell her to shove a knife inside of her and shut up. Call our behaviour bad? Shut the fuck up woman, have some genital mutilation, and get back in the kitchen.

How do you fight that sort of idiocy, aggression, misogyny? You call it out, even if you're a blogger who has no following. You remind the people who are at the front lines of the fight that they're not alone. And if you see call it out. Don't give people a pass just because they figured out there's no god. Sometimes that's just the first epiphany people have to have before they sort shit out.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Instant Runoff Voting in Canada

In May, 2011, the Conservative Party of Canada stunned political pundits by winning a solid majority government of 166 seats - 13 more than required to control the federal government for four and a half years. Instead of winning a minority government as projected, the Conservatives won 53.9 percent of seats available with only 39.6% of the vote. A five-party vote split and Canada’s first-past-the-post style of electoral politics has allowed for a party with only a plurality of votes to control the majority of politics for the first time since 2000.

Electoral reform in Canada is, sadly, not a seriously-considered issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not necessary. The Liberal Democrats in the United Kingdom made electoral reform part of their platform, and their preferred choice, instant run-off voting, was put to the test recently in the UK. Though defeated in the UK, I was curious what would have happened in Canada in 2011 if we used the same system. After a little work, I was able to come up with some answers to that question, but before we get to the exact logistics, let’s take a peek at how things work now, now instant run-off voting would work, and the methodology of my thought experiment.