A Question of Atheist Scruples – round 7

June 19, 2012

I really enjoy these thought exercises. Here’s today’s selection.

Your mate has been unfaithful. Do you leave him/her?

Monogamy is a rarity in the animal world. Even in the more specific realm of primates (which we are) there are only a few species that mate that way. In the even more narrow realm of human cultural history, there are ample examples of societies that organized mating and relationships along other, equally satisfying lines. Monogamy, as practiced now, may be more a product of a culture that treated women as property (“Do you take this woman?”) and it was expected that any children produced by her would be from the seed of the man she married. Property often transferred down the father’s line of the family. That’s why adultery has been considered a sin. Temptation, too. Even the briefest thought of entertaining another person is supposedly enough to send a soul to hell.

If two people have agreed that their relationship, however long they expect to have it, will be a monogamous one, then discovering one person has strayed… well, it’s a severe breach of trust to say the least. Some reaction may have to do with how long the relationship has lasted. If it’s only been a couple weeks and the guy is already plowing another field, then I made a mistake in picking him. I’d feel like an idiot but be glad I hadn’t really gotten too serious with him. If it’s been months and I’ve really cared about that person and discover secret trysts have been going on, it’d be a lot more devastating. But, if my interest in that person has been waning as well, I think I’d use the betrayal as the open door out of what clearly isn’t a relationship to be in anymore.

If it was someone I felt like I couldn’t live without, maybe I’d put up with the nights he didn’t come home, so long as there were still some nights he did.. but I can’t actually see myself wanting to be in that situation either. If I didn’t sign up for an “open” relationship, I don’t want to find out by accident that I’ve been in one all along.

During a discussion with a seatmate on a plane, you promise to send a relevant magazine article. Do you actually do it.?

The version of game I take these questions from came from the mid 1980s before the internet made information gathering so much easier. In the days of mailing, maybe I would have taken their address and gotten around to sending it eventually, but probably not. I tend to procrastinate with that kind of thing. With email, it’s a lot easier. I probably wouldn’t even have to send the article; I could just pass along what site I found it on and he or she could get it at the airport upon landing.

A neighbour’s kid finds $30 on your driveway and gives it to you. No one claims it. Do you give the money to the kid?

I’d be totally surprised the kid gave me the money in the first place. What a morally sound kid. If I found $30 on someone’s driveway, I don’t know if I’d go to the door and deliver it. Depends on whether or not anyone saw me pick it up, I suppose. If I later heard my neighbour griping over the loss of cash, I’d probably recall what I picked up and pass it over, though. Money is one of those weird things. If I found a whole wallet with ID and cash in, I’d deliver the wallet to the authorities untouched but bills flying around apparently ownerless? I refer the courts to the case of Finders vs. Keepers… I’d let the kid keep the money.

Last question for readers.

You reserve seats at a local theatre by phone (without paying). A few hours before curtain, you decide not to go. Do you bother to cancel?


A Question of Atheist Scruples – round 6

June 12, 2012

Time for another round of Q and A:

You are a high school principal. Will you hire a gay teacher?

I will hire the most qualified applicant. If that applicant turns out to be gay, I wouldn’t see that as an issue, although maybe some parents might. Maybe my boss would, too. I’d still want to support my pick for the job, though. In this day and age, this is something that shouldn’t even be mattering anymore.

A friend has forgotten about a book he loaned you. You want the book and can’t get another copy. Do you keep it?

Maybe I’d feel tempted to remind said friend about the book but if friend hasn’t made mention of it in the weeks or months or perhaps years (it happens) then maybe the book means far less to that person and won’t care if it’s not returned. I have stuff I’d loan out and probably forget about. Other books do have more sentimental value and wouldn’t be offered up on loan, no matter how much a friend may want to read it.

You come across your mate’s personal address book. Do you glance through it?

I just did. Aside from one page, it’s blank. All that’s in it is family and likely added by his mom or sister, judging by the tidy penmanship. If I needed an address, I’d just ask him anyway. I don’t poke around on his Blackberry to see who or what he’s got listed in there, either. We don’t have many friends in common and I’m not one to pry.

Fourth for readers:

You lose an expensive gold watch and are reimbursed by your insurance company. Shortly afterward you find the watch. Do you return the money?


Linkskrieg! (Second pass)

June 11, 2012

More things I never made time to write about.

1. “Unnecessary conflict” between science and evangelicalism:

This is not to say that I want to reject reason or science – quite the contrary! My point here is that understanding distinction between these truths of mythos and logos points the way towards realizing the compatibility of scientific and religious thought. We need them both. They don’t have to be enemies, as they represent different aspects of the human search for truth.

2. Live Science’s article on the extremes between the religious and the atheist:

Psychologists, sociologists and neurologists continue to study why some gobble up religion as profound truth while others reject it as superstition.

“This whole area [of research] teaches us something about the human mind and brain,” said Andrew Newberg, director of research at the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University and author of “How God Changes Your Brain” (Ballantine Books, 2009).

“There are a lot of philosophical and theological implications of this work and about how we understand the world,” Newberg added.

3. More about earthquakes and the Dead Sea’s “proof” that Jesus died on Friday April 3rd, 33AD:

In terms of the earthquake data alone, Williams and his team acknowledge that the seismic activity associated with the crucifixion could refer to “an earthquake that occurred sometime before or after the crucifixion and was in effect ‘borrowed’ by the author of the Gospel of Matthew, and a local earthquake between 26 and 36 A.D. that was sufficiently energetic to deform the sediments of Ein Gedi but not energetic enough to produce a still extant and extra-biblical historical record.”

“If the last possibility is true, this would mean that the report of an earthquake in the Gospel of Matthew is a type of allegory,” they write.

(I’m always amused by people who turn to science in the hopes of proving their religious texts aren’t just a bunch of made up hooey.)

4. Japanese Jesus tomb a big tourist draw:

Some 500 tourists attended a festival Sunday in the village of Shingo, Aomori Prefecture, where women in kimono danced in a circle around a cross erected on a spot that locals believe is the tomb of Jesus Christ.

Village legend has it Jesus survived his crucifixion and secretly came to Japan and lived out his natural life and died in the village, which used to be called Herai, a word that apparently came from the word Hebrew.

5. Pastor accused of beating kids:

Officials say the boy told deputies that the day before, his mother took him and his brother to see the pastor after church to talk with him about their misbehavior during services at the church on Ames Blvd.

“They were misbehaving in church, and usually, according to the mom’s statements, she would let the pastor discipline the kids following church,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Glen Boyd.

Investigators say the 10-year-old told them it was during that session when Smith, a Gretna resident, beat them with a belt.

6. Do secular TV shows offer enough morality lessons for Christian kids?

here’s where I tend to differ from many Christian parents I know: I’m not protective because I fear the moral damage television might do to my children. I’m protective because I want my children to stay children and not have to watch people being killed or hurt or harassed. I don’t want them to see how awful people can be to each other—not yet. I’m protecting their outlook on humanity.

7. Pastor accused of swindling an elderly woman out of property worth a fortune:

Abakporo, who owns a home in the wealthy part of Jamaica Estates in Queens, N.Y., is also a pastor at Deeper Life Bible Church, investigators said.

Instead of turning the checks over to McCarther, who prosecutors say was in declining physical and mental health, they deposited the rental checks into their own bank accounts.

Federal prosecutors say Abakporo and Pierce further tangled McCarther in a “web of lies” and ultimately persuaded her to sell them her property for $3.1 million. But instead of giving her real money, they paid her in phony checks, prosecutors said.

8. A bill in California has been offered banning conversion therapy:

The bill would ban anyone under age 18 from receiving sexual-orientation change efforts (SOCE). It would also require adults seeking SOCE to first sign a statement warning that that SOCE is “unlikely to be effective,” could be harmful, and is not recommended by mental health professional groups.

Efforts to change sexual orientation are “junk science, and it must stop,” said Democratic state Sen. Ted W. Lieu, the bill’s author.


A Question of Atheist Scruples – round 5

June 7, 2012

Taking the leisurely route back into blogging here with another post demonstrating that at least one atheist has a decent grasp of morality and ethics. This minion doesn’t run ripshod through the world as if rules and laws didn’t exist. God might not exist, but decency does.

Preoccupied, you leave a large restaurant without paying your $3.50 bill for breakfast. You discover this three blocks later. You aren’t pressed for time. Do you return and pay?

Of course. Last time around it was 50 cents extra change that I didn’t see a point in returning. This is different to me. I’ve likely interacted more with the waitress, said yes or no to cream and sugar, or more coffee, agreed the meal was excellent (even if it wasn’t, the price makes up for it) and would feel particularly bad ditching on the bill since it’d likely mean some of her pay would have to go towards making up for it. I know most waitresses rely heavily on their tips to get anywhere, too.

You are applying for a job that requires experience you don’t have. Do you claim that you do?

I think the ruse would soon be discovered, so probably not. Instead, I’d try to convince the potential employer that I have a transferable skill set and learn quickly. I don’t tend to apply for positions I’m not qualified for.

I’m reminded of a story out of my alma mater back in 2001, now. The University of Regina wound up with egg on its face after it was discovered that they’d hired an engineering professor who’d falsified all her documentation yet wound up teaching classes there.

The University of Regina is passing its file on “Dr.” Lana Nguyen to the Regina police service, but continues to refuse to answer questions surrounding her employment and dismissal.

The police and crown prosecutors will decide if charges will be laid against the woman who defrauded the university of hundreds of thousands of dollars. University President Dr. David Barnard confirmed early this week that Nguyen resigned Feb. 13 after an annual peer review process revealed that she does not have the credentials with which she was hired.

Since her resignation, the University of Ottawa, the University of Waterloo, and the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) have respectively confirmed that she does not hold the bachelor’s degree, doctorate, or professional status she claimed. Her ex-husband Hien Nguyen studied and received diplomas from the two universities, and Lana Nguyen claimed his transcripts and research as her own, allegedly explaining that “Lana” was an anglicized version of “Hien.”

That takes more balls than I have, let me tell you.

A friend has sunk into a depression and behaves in an unattractive manner. Do you distance yourself until your friend gets it together?

There’s a phrase that describes that kind of behaviour: fair-weather friend. I have a pretty poor track record when it comes to friendships as it is; I don’t need to start doing that kind of thing, too. I don’t go out of my way to maintain connections with people. Even with all the ways there are to stay in contact and updated on the lives of those I know, I still don’t bother doing the clicks required to inform me of their progress through life. And I assume they’re ignoring me to equal levels as well. It’s a character flaw, I suppose. I’ll also point out that I draw a fine line between genuine care and annoying nosiness and it often feels like too many people cross it. Me, I don’t like to pry. I prefer to assume that if it’s something I need to know, that person will tell me. Back when I was in the dating realm, though, I learned there are people who assume everyone wants to play 20 Questions every time there’s an encounter. I had a fun analogy built at the time to describe both types of people but I only recall my way of interacting: a pinball approach. I like when conversations bounce from topic to topic and don’t have a set goal at the end of it…like this blog post…

Back to the question. I guess it depends on just how “together” this friend needs to get. This is all assuming I’ve even put two and two together in terms of life issues and behaviour patterns. I don’t always pick up on that kind of thing. I’ve already said I don’t pry, so if this friend hasn’t come forward to explain why he or she is having a difficult time, I don’t know if I’d think of asking for explanations.

Last one to the readers.

You discover an excellent wine imported from South Africa. You know it was likely produced by workers who are exploited and discriminated against. Do you buy the wine?


Old news: Cross purposes

May 17, 2012

A couple stories I’ll throw in; one from the start of 2012 when I wasn’t in the mood to blog and one from September 2010 when I would have blogged about it had I seen it. Oldest first: Mount Lebanon village erects giant cross as sign of unity

In the mountainous village of Qanat Bekish, a giant cross soaring over 73 meters in the air was constructed and lit up as a sign of unity among the world’s people.

I fail to see how a cross can be a sign of unity for Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, atheists and any other group that wouldn’t fall under the Christian umbrella. But maybe those people don’t really count…

The edifice was inaugurated by the Maronite Christian Church and was lit up with 1,800 spotlights, according to Father Farid Doumit, a Maronite priest in Qanat Bekish. The inauguration came on the eve of the Feast of the Holy Cross, a celebration which commemorates finding the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified.

The cross was found? How come I didn’t know about that? When did that happen? States Wikipedia,

According to legends that spread widely throughout Western Europe, the True Cross was discovered in 326 by Saint Helena, the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, during a pilgrimage she made to Jerusalem. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was then built at the site of the discovery, by order of Helena and Constantine. The church was dedicated nine years later, with a portion of the cross[2] placed inside it. Other legends explain that in 614, that portion of the cross was carried away from the church by the Persians, and remained missing until it was recaptured by the Byzantine Emperor Heraclius in 628. Initially taken to Constantinople, the cross was returned to the church the following year.

French Catholic groups and locals donated a total of $1.5 million to make the cross a reality.


(via)

What a waste of money in my opinion. They could have gotten the same amount of pipe from Home Depot a lot cheaper than that, even including shipping costs.

In northern Lebanon, a Mass was held in Koura at the Saydit Bkifteen monastery. Archimandrite Issac Khoury presided over the ceremony and stressed the importance the cross had for Christians.

And what do the Muslims who share Lebanon think about this so-called unity cross? The article doesn’t say.

Onto the second. I discovered the link I’d saved died but the story was out of Mt. Juliet in Tennessee where the mayor there was hoping to erect a giant cross to honour God and country. While looking for a copy of the story elsewhere, I found the Storify rundown of tweets about the news.

The mayor of Mt. Juliet said he wants to see a megachurch build near I-40 and erect a Christian cross to complement a nearby flag. The idea was met with applause when he floated it to the local chamber of commerce but has been derided by sites like Fark.com.

Fark is probably where I found out about it. PZ Myers got his followers to crash a poll the Tennessean paper had posted about it but that link is also dead. The question was, “Should a mayor incorporate his or her faith into plans for a city?” The only real answer should be no, rendering the need to poll somewhat moot. Alas, if PZ had to get involved, responses must have been going in the opposite direction.

The site also notes the existence of a “15-foot cross along Interstate 40″ already, erected by Cookville, a town 30 miles east. The mayor wants to keep up with the Joneses, I guess. Maybe he thinks it’d boost tourism, like those who erected a 33 foot tall Jesus in Swiebodzin, Poland:

Some locals think the statue will bring more visitors to the area, which others think is a waste of money.

“I don’t understand. With all this money, we would have done better to build an elementary school,” said Jarek, 41, from a nearby village.

A source close to the project said it had cost around a million euros (£870,000).

But, no money goes to waste if it’s a statue of Jesus or his torture implement. Never mind what kind of social programs could have gotten a boost from that kind of money, throw it all toward a giant erection instead…


The One Minion Search Party – “are plastic surgeons playing god”

May 16, 2012

I’m at odds with the world of plastic surgery. I wrote a piece in 2011 focused on the dilemma a British woman found herself in after botched work . (She never got the £54 million she thought she deserved, though.) I’m generally appalled by the lengths to which some women will go to look fitter, younger, more mutant or less ethnic. (It affects guys, too. I mean, what the hell, Kenny Rogers? What the merry flipping Ken doll hell?) Some people are addicted to plastic surgery and are never satisfied with their latest run under the knife. Bigger butts, shorter toes, changing the shape of the chin or nose or jaw or cheeks… Facelifts and vagina lifts.. I don’t think there’s an area of the body immune to one’s notion of “room for improvement.”

Earlier this month I got a kick out of story regarding a new television series set in Miami in 1959 and the hellish time the casting people had finding women who didn’t have boob jobs.

Producers discovered many women of South Florida have been surgically enhanced beyond anything natural to the late 1950s.

“I’ve actually had better luck finding synchronized swimming groups than I did finding real boobs,” said Bill Marinella, local extras casting director. “We did a lot of research and reached out to burlesque clubs and just finding people on the beach and literally walking up to them on the street and saying, ‘Hey, you look like you’re right out of The Great Gatsby.’ ”

I suppose it’d be impossible to separate the sense of self worth from the judgement of one’s looks (or at least the suspicion that looks are being judged). I know there are women who claim boob jobs made them more confident, or made people take them more seriously. Hell, older successful women can’t even walk out the door sans makeup without some media outlet making a story out of it. Small wonder people will hurry to a doctor to erase the signs of aging. Every minor physical “flaw” is a reason to pick on someone…

It boosts my mood to see young girls taking popular magazines to task for their portrayals of women. Like 14 year old Julia Bluhm and her protest against Seventeen:

Julia’s journey from smalltown Maine to midtown Manhattan began less than two weeks ago, when she took her cause to Change.org, an activist forum, and set up her petition online. She was joined by six other teen girls and young women affiliated as she is with SPARK, a national organization that pushes back against sexualized images of girls in the media.

Julia made her case in detail at the top of her online petition, saying unrealistic images “can lead to eating disorders, dieting, depression, and low self esteem”:

“To girls today, the word ‘pretty’ means skinny and blemish-free. Why is that, when so few girls actually fit into such a narrow category? It’s because the media tells us that ‘pretty’ girls are impossibly thin with perfect skin.”

Those who run the mag assured her that they do their best to portray their models as authentic as possible but other magazines can’t make the same claim. Any lady-aimed rags you look at while in line at the grocery store will either feature immaculate women on the cover or flaunt the worst possible pictures of other women in order to mock the cellulite or the lack of “put-together” while out running errands. It’s a constant bombardment and a constant reminder that women apparently only exist to be admired for their beauty or insulted when they don’t accentuate their beauty.

But getting back to the plastic surgery part of this now – there are good reasons to have properly trained plastic surgeons. There are legitimate reasons beyond pure vanity to hire them; skin grafts for burn victims and fixing cleft palates are two uses that come to mind. There are probably others. I’d never say there’s no need for them but I think needs should be weighed in terms beyond “I want to be prettier!” I’ll quote the Daily Mail article I linked to above:

Rightly, the judge decided this was an over-inflated amount. But even to have granted a ninth of that sum seems to me excessive. Who’s to say the company wouldn’t have failed anyway? After all, it seems to have survived for years after her cosmetic surgery — failing only in 2009, when we were in the grip of recession.

I wouldn’t wish Penny Johnson’s experience on anyone. She certainly deserves much sympathy. But what a shame that she’s not telling the world that she will give most of that money to a charity for facially deformed children.

If only she just rolled up her sleeves and went back to work, she could prove to us all that there really is more to life than just a pretty face.

Yeah, if only. Unfortunately, it’d take more than one person to pull that off. Everybody would have to make the effort and it’s hard to say if there’d be much in the way of incentives for trying.


Old news: faith healing event ends in tragedy, death

May 11, 2012

It wasn’t directly the fault of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of Nigeria, but he was the person 150,000 people had traveled to see in Cape Town back in March. He has a reputation as a miraculous faith healer so people who should be going to doctors – or have but don’t like their diagnoses or prognoses – are putting their faith in his ability to heal. One man in the audience during the three day Pentecostal show died, another pastor by the name of Simon Williams. The fifty-six year old

was taken from hospital intensive care to the event by his family. He collapsed and died from renal failure inside the stadium.

Dr Wayne Smith, head of disaster medicine for Cape Town, said he treated about 30 patients in the stadium’s medical centre and sent 16 to hospital.

“Some of them had travelled long distances to get there, they had ongoing medical issues and were in a lot of pain,” he said.

Pastor Chris has a few black marks on him already. In 2008, he was accused of protecting another pastor from his church who might have murdered a girl. He’s been suspected of money laundering to the tune of 35 million dollars and charges exorbitant attendance fees for special events at his Christ Embassy church. He, along with a lot of other evangelicals in the country, preach the prosperity gospel, and the poor are giving him upwards of 30% of their available money in the hopes that God will turn things around for them. Of course, the truth is that only Christ Embassy and the pastors in it get to prosper and enjoy a windfall.

So, back to this faith healing business. It’s understandable why people with little hope of improvement (in health or finances) would try something like this but this shit doesn’t work. James Randi helped expose Peter Popoff as a fraud back in 1987 but he’s still kicking around and still fleecing otherwise intelligent people on a weekly basis. “Desperation changes the balance.”

If you would tell them not to give their money to Peter Popoff, what would you tell them to do instead? Would they be better off giving that $100 to the bank that’s about to foreclose on their house anyway, or to the landlord about to evict them? If we have no alternative solution to offer, then our best arguments may boil down to this: false hope is expensive, and hopelessness is free. That’s not a strong selling point.

People need hope. We have a powerful need to feel like we have some control over our fate, even if it is an illusion. That’s why those with the most serious illnesses spend the most money on quack therapies. And it’s why we can’t save desperate people from the likes of Peter Popoff through debunking alone—we need to offer a positive alternative that meets their needs.

When people really don’t know which way to turn, any wrong direction can feel like the right one. Maybe it seems like there isn’t time to look into alternatives, or it doesn’t occur to them to look for different kind of aid or support, or they think there won’t be anything even remotely close to what they need, save a miracle. I don’t know. I just hope that if I’m ever in dire straits I’ll look for real help rather than put faith in something ultimately useless.


A Question of Atheist Scruples – Round 1

May 1, 2012

I found a copy of this at Value Village, a version of the game from 1984. I had no idea the game was still being made, though. According to official rules:

Scruples makes players sweat as they ask each other what they would do in a moral predicament. Luckily no one has to tell the truth and there’s no right answer!

Well, I guess that’s one way to play it. I was planning on playing it straight, though, since the point of this whole endeavor is to demonstrate an atheist’s ability to make ethical and moral choices. I’m going to pick three questions out of my card deck and answer them seriously. A fourth question will be added for readers who want to “play along” but feel free to respond to any question that looks like fun to answer.

So, question 1: You’ve gone to see a nude show. Next day, a female colleague asks how you spent the evening. Do you tell her?

Recall here that I am a woman, not a guy.

First, it depends on the atmosphere of the work place. I know people who made the mistake of telling coworkers they’d gone to the casino when it first opened and rumours got flying about how often they were probably gambling. Some of them were close to the truth, but that’s beside the point. Gossip might be the glue that holds a social group together but what people do off the job should be their own business (so long as it’s not illegal or hurting anyone). People love to judge other people on their choices, though. Setting up the notion that someone might have a reputation as a problem gambler (or “slut”) may effect how that person is treated in the workplace.

Second, it depends on how well I know her and what her role is in that workplace in comparison to mine. If she’s my supervisor, I don’t know if I’d admit I went to Chippendales or whatever. If I knew the woman well enough to know she was heavily religious and unlikely to be impressed with my blasé account of seeing men with their kit off, I’d probably lie and say I’d stayed in. If she was someone I did know well who’d be heartily envious over how I spent my night, I’d go to town elaborating on the show when we found a quiet time to catch up.

As an aside, Saskatchewan is the only province in Canada that bans the mixing of strip clubs and alcohol. A protest show called “Naked if I Want” is set to run here in Saskatoon on May 4th at the Cosmo Civic Centre. Email mybodymydance@hotmail.com to get more information or request a place on the guest list.

The idea was for the Liberals to host the stripping event and oppose the alcohol control regulation that prohibits establishments from serving liquor when the entertainment involves nudity, a strip tease performance, or a wet clothing contest—but the party shut it down.

“The members didn’t like it, there was no official policy passed, so it got shut down,” Buckner said. “I was devastated.”

Buckner, who performs as a drag king with the stage name Stevie Blunder, has since decided to hold the show and give the proceeds to support the Saskatoon Slut Walk and Consentfest. Both events are dedicated to “ending victim-blaming and making sex-positive attitudes where we really need them—here in Saskatchewan,” she said.

What a good first question. You’d think I had planned it so I could lead into that story, but I assure it it was all coincidence.

Question 2: In his will, a man leaves your charitable organization a substantial bequest but fails to provide for his sick widow. (The bastard!) The whole estate is needed to maintain the widow. (Shit!) Do you fight to keep the bequest?

Cripes. Temptation is to keep it, but if word got out, and it inevitably would hit the Twitterverse in a heartbeat, my organization would be likely shitbombed with complaints and accusations and a withdrawal of support from dedicated donors. Bloggers would write about this poor woman and set up funds so people the world over could dig deep into their own wallets for a couple bucks to help her out. She’d probably get a lot more money that way… but the right thing to do would be to announce publicly that the bequest was going to be redirected to her. The good press garnered from that magnanimous gesture would boost my reputation as a caring person and probably boost donations to my charity. Maybe I wouldn’t get the same dollar value in the long run, but I’d feel better about myself. She’d get the help she needs and I’d still be able to help others. Win win.

Question 3: You are the director of the neighbourhood food cooperative. A member – a single mother with four children – is caught shoplifting $30 in groceries. You suspect she has been stealing for years. Do you press charges?

I had to look up how food co-ops work. I’ve never used one, but I’ve walked by Steep Hill on Broadway quite often.

As a co-operative, our products represent what our members want: quality, not profit, is our motive. We as Steep Hill members have the opportunity to be involved with the everyday operation of our store through a monthly work commitment.

Shopping at Steep Hill is a friendly experience, without the pressures and stresses of supermarket shopping. Meeting your neighbours, getting to know people with similar concerns are added attractions at Steep Hill Co-op. Nobody profits except the members.

Okay, so I think what might work in a case like this would be bringing it to the attention of the other members to get their input. Would they be pissed off enough to want to cancel her membership or would they be willing to make arrangements for her to work the value of the food off? With four kids, she’d definitely need the food. I suppose it would also depend on how bad off she actually is. What if this is a woman who got a hell of a divorce settlement and could afford to buy organic at Sobeys but likes to give the impression that she’s merely a community conscious volunteer? In that case, yeah, I would want to press charges.

Question 4, and open to comments from the peanut gallery: You’ve accepted a date when someone you REALLY like calls and asks you out for the same night. Do you try to get out of the first date?

Okay, some of the questions are a little less thought-provoking than others…


Banned Book Club – Grapes of Wrath

March 21, 2012

–Edit March 21/12 – I wrote this on the third and apparently I hit “Save draft” instead of “Publish” because it was still sitting in my draft folder. Ah well. You can enjoy it now.

Freedom to Read Week is wrapping up today and the only book club I’m in reads nothing but banned or challenged books, so it’s a good time to be writing about one. John Steinbeck’s seminal work was the book we’d picked this time around. If you’ve never read it, go get yourself a copy. Seriously.

The basis of the story, for those who are unfamiliar: Tom Joad has just been released from prison and is on his way home to rejoin his family. Unfortunately, his family’s already left the struggling farm they’d been living on in Oklahoma, forced off the land by circumstances beyond their control: the Great Depression. Tom runs into an old family friend in the meantime, a preacher by the name of Casy, who’s long since given up on the notion that a god gives a damn about what’s going on in the world. When the two of them hear that the Joad family has probably gone to stay with Uncle John, they hurry over; the Joads have decided to head for California like so many other desperate families and Tom and Casy arrive just in time to join them. There are thousands of jobs there — at least, that’s the rumour that gets everyone through their days. Are they ever in for a surprise… Read the rest of this entry »


When life gives you lemons, squeeze the s#%t out of them?

March 13, 2012

I haven’t been in the mood to update this for a few days. I’ve been mildly stressed out while waiting to hear word about my library job. I’ve been working in a full-time term for more than 3 years and the job posting finally came out to make it permanent. Unfortunately, full time with no evenings and weekends is a coveted kind of job around there so every Tomassina, Dixie and Jane applied for it and, regardless of the interview process, the most senior applicant will wind up with it. That person isn’t me. So, as of May I’ll be back to my half time hours elsewhere. Pros and cons to that, of course. More free time but less money coming to me every month. A lot less. That’s going to be quite the adjustment and that’s quite the understatement.

Maybe it’s a sign I should update my resume and look for alternatives.


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