December 28th, 2015 Weekly Newsletter Roundup

So many of you have thrown your support behind our goal of sponsoring a refugee family in 2016. In fact, you've donated and pledged over $3000 in one week.

This is in addition to the generosity you've also shown in support of our other projects and campaigns.

But we still need another $10 000 to close the gap and give us the confidence to make this project a reality.

If you haven't yet, there are still a few days left to donate and take full advantage of the available tax credits for 2015.

Read more about our plans to sponsor a family and donate today.

Yesterday, Sunday, December 27, 2015, a group of 22 Humanists watched a video featuring Guy Standing speaking about his book The Precariat: The New, Dangerous Class. Standing explained 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.  A lively discussion followed the video.

Upcoming Events

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.

On Sunday, January 10, 2016, we will hear David Simpson speak on How to be a Christian Atheist, the story of his loss of faith, while he retained his positive attitude to life and morality. 

On Sunday, January 17, 2016, we will have a return engagement of John Ince, this time speaking on Happiiness - what it is and how to achieve it

On Sunday, January 24, 2016, we will hear from Nader Abdullah of the Syrian Canadian Council speaking on the Syrian Refugee Crisis

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.

See all upcoming events.


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.

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: [email protected]

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


Despite the plethora of bad and ugly news this past year, The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz managed to retain his legendary sense of humour as shown by this selection of hilarious spoofs of news stories from the past year.


It seems that even atheist squirrels are getting in on the War on Christmas. In this case, silencing church bells by chewing through the ropes used to drive them. Kudos to those rapacious rodents! Let's substitute a calming chorus of "Silent Night".


Scientists have created a computer chip powered by ATP, the molecule which most living organisms use to release energy for movement and growth. This could be the basis for pacemakers and other bionic devices which could function indefinitely without changing and/or recharging batteries.


Noise cancelling headsets are fairly common but this device tackles the noise at its source. It's a snore-cancelling nose-attached device that creates appropriate out of phase sound waves to create a silent zone around a loud snorer.


In addition to the many other manifest benefits of expanding one's intellectual capacity, a study reported in Scientific American shows a positive correlation between intelligence and life expectancy.

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:
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:
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:

The Bad


The father of Alan Kurdi, the drowned 3 year old Syrian refugee boy whose face-down image shocked the world, delivered a Christmas message on BBC 4 asking for a little sympathy.


Please consider signing this petition to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership dealThe deal could make it increasingly difficult for NGOs to oppose atrocities like the destruction of rain forests in Malaysia.


The death of Dr Robert Spitzer is tragic but he leaves behind a hugely positive legacy for our LGBT fellow humans. Here NPR tells the story of how homosexuality stopped being considered an illness with the advent of the DSM and the key role Dr Spitzer played in that development.


Because of price-gouging on the part of pharmaceutical giants, and an unsustainable insistence on reducing taxes on the ultra-wealthy, many US states are refusing to pay for drugs needed to effectively treat hepatitis C.

The Ugly


This item is both ugly and funny in turn. Majid Nawaaz, former Islamist turned activist for Islamic reformation has received a torrent of hate on twitter from fellow Muslims and from some regressive leftists. Others used the same hashtag to post humourous curses calling down "first world problems" on Majid.


Freedom of speech is quashed by Bank of America or its agents (it is unclear if BoA executives directly ordered this outrage) as Twitter deletes a journalist's joke in response to a patently bogus copyright violation claim.


Port Metro Vancouver's board has approved, over massive local and international opposition, the plan to open a new coal port at Fraser Surrey docks.


In related news, please consider sharing this open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding the National Energy Board's review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline project.


More horror stories emerge from the Scientology cult as Miscavige begins a new campaign to harass media outlets which report on Scientology's current and past scandals. This from The Underground Bunker, Tony Ortega's anti-Scientology website.


A Canadian pastor of a Toronto Korean Presbyterian church is in prison in North Korea serving a life sentence for "subversive plots" and other absurd charges. This after 20 years and over 100 humanitarian trips to North Korea to distribute badly needed supplies. Please consider signing this petition to ask Justin Trudeau and Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General) to put more pressure on the North Korean regime to free this pastor.

 The Promotions


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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