December 7, 2015 Newsletter Roundup

This past Sunday, December 6, 2015, 32 of us were engaged and interested to hear from John Ince, speaking on the political significance of sexuality and the negative effects of erotophobia. Ince discussed how authoritarian structures are correlated with sexually repressive regimes. He theorizes that this is because hierarchical thinking requires a very rational mindset that is in direct conflict with feelings of sexuality.

We've occasionally posted video from one of our Sunday speakers on our YouTube channel. However, this is fairly time-consuming so instead we're going to try posting audio recordings for the next few weeks (when our speaker's consent). If this trial proves successful, we'll turn this series into a podcast in the new year. 

Have a listen to yesterday's speech by John Ince on the political significance of sexuality (note that this episode does contain some explicit content) and let me know what you think.

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, December 13, 2015, we will hear from Paul Clark of the Metro Vancouver Alliance, speaking about his group which brings together a wide array of progressive groups in Metro Vancouver around issues of common interest.

On Sunday, December 20, 2015, we will hear from Tee Barnett of Charity Science on Effective Altruism.

On Sunday, December 27, 2015, we will watch a video featuring Guy Standing speaking about his book The Precariat: The New, Dangerous Class. Standing explains the situation of growing numbers of skilled and unskilled workers in the developed world who have no job security, no benefits, and are compelled to spend a large part of their free time preparing to compete for fewer and fewer well-paying jobs.

On Sunday, January 3, 2016, we will watch a video featuring Guy Standing speaking on The Precariat Charter. Standing presents a new social contract to deal with the realities of that were discussed in the video shown at the December 27, 2015 Sunday meeting.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The January book club selection is A Fair Country by John Ralston. The meeting will be on Tuesday, January 5, 2015 at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of the meeting we will decide on the April 5, 2016 book club selection.

The February book club selection is Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law. The February meeting will be on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of the meeting, we will decide on the May 3, 2016 book club selection.

The March book club selection is With or Without God by Gretta Vosper. The March meeting will be on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of the meeting, we will decide on the June 7, 2016 book club selection.

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Doors open for our Vancouver meetings at the Oakridge Seniors Centre at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

Check the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into November and beyond. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead as scheduled here, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.


Honorary membership

Because of her tireless effort with Dying With Dignity Canada over the past five years, the Board of Directors of the BC Humanist Association has awarded Wanda Morris with an honorary membership. Wanda's commitment to Humanism can be seen through her campaigning to improve quality of dying, expand end-of-life choices and helping Canadians avoid unwanted suffering.

We'll be presenting this award to Wanda at our Winter Solstice Dinner on December 19 but we only have a few tickets left, so make sure to get yours before they're gone.

Fall BCHA Socials

On Wednesday, December 9 David Granirer, Al Hassam and J B Bell (from Stand Up For Mental Health) will be hosting Comic Disbelief, a night of comedy and skepticism at La Fontana Caffe at Hastings and Boundary. This event is free. Details here.

Finally, make sure to get your tickets for our annual Winter Solstice dinner. Tickets are selling fast. 


Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email: secretary@bchumanist.ca

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

To keep our email newsletter digestible, we save extra news tidbits for this roundup. The opinions which appear in this roundup are not necessarily shared by all or even most of the members and board of the BC Humanist Association.

The Good

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Former BCHA president, Dr. Sue Hughson, is featured in this National Post article on what veterinarians can teach doctors about assisted dying. It's an excellent article in light of the still painfully slow move toward legal and regulated physician assisted dying for patients with intractable pain and no prospect of recovery.

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The next meeting of Surrey Interfaith Council will take place this coming Friday, December 11, 2015 from 9:30-11:30 AM in room 418 at the Surrey City Centre Library. 

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Al Gore gave a hopeful speech at COP21, the Climate Change talks in Paris. Renewables are rapidly becoming more cost-effective than continued use of fossil fuels.

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The draft agreement hammered out at COP21 Climate Change talks in Paris has been released. It remains to be seen if it can survive the relentless onslaught from oil company billionaires that continue to attempt to derail it at all costs.

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Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged to give 99% of their $45 billion worth to charity to "advance human potential and promote equality" over their lifetime. 

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Tesla expands its network of charging stations in the US. The number of charging stations more than doubled in the past year.

Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-justice-and-attorney-general-canada-mandate-letter#sthash.mIi2SoF2.dpuf
Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-justice-and-attorney-general-canada-mandate-letter#sthash.mIi2SoF2.dpuf
Working with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and Health, create a federal-provincial-territorial process that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. - See more at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-justice-and-attorney-general-canada-mandate-letter#sthash.mIi2SoF2.dpuf

The Bad

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Here is another article from The National Observer comparing Canadian and US gun laws and gun deaths, making the rather obvious point (at least to Canadians) that making it more challenging for people to buy guns leads to fewer gun related deaths and injuries. Canada's per capita rate of gun deaths is about 1/7th of that of the US.

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The latest mass shooting in San Bernardino is now officially being investigated by the FBI as an act of terror. The fact that one of the shooters posted something on Facebook supporting ISIS justifies this decision. It really should be classified as an Islamist act of terror because, as the previous attack on Planned Parenthood (among many other, similar incidents) clearly shows, there are also other kinds of terrorism for the US and the world to worry about.

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Another week, another petition from Amnesty International to free a political prisoner. This time in Myanmar, a young woman and several other students involved in a peaceful protest against government policies was beaten and arrested.

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Scientific American has an update on projected effects of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The best models of climate change still have large uncertainties but even the best case does not look good. Hopefully the Paris Climate talks will finally convince world governments to do something substantial about the problem.

 The Ugly

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From IBTimes comes a report from a former ISIS hostage. ISIS wants the West to kill more Muslims so more will join their apocalyptic death cult and fulfill their prophecy.

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A court has found Don Blankenship, former CEO of Massey Coal, responsible for that company's systematic and ongoing violation of mine safety laws. He faces a possible 1 year jail term for his role in the deaths of 29 coal miners in a West Virginia coal mine explosion in 2010. Meanwhile, people without high priced lawyers and bought and paid for politicians are routinely shot by police "on suspicion."

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Here is another petition from Amnesty International, this time to free Waleed Abu al-Khair, a Saudi Arabian civil rights lawyer. He faces 15 years in prison for the "crime" of defending civil rights cases in the country that is arguably the poster for US foreign policy support of regimes with horrific human rights records.

 The Promotions

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Anyone interested in taking part in Philosophy Dinners must sign up and pay the small fee ($5) in advance via Meetup since there a limited number of physical seats (and their format involves no more than 6 people to a table in order to keep the groups small). Glen is also coordinator of psychology dinners, and Calopia, your one-stop shopping site for worthwhile causes.

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