November 30th, 2015 Newsletter Roundup

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.

DISCLAIMER: 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.


This past Sunday, November 29, 2015, 39 of us enjoyed a very entertaining yet serious presentation by Obi Canuel of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. His main takeaway was the need for a bit more humour and compassion in our approach to life.

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, December 6, 2015, we will have a presentation from John Ince, author and activist, on The Political Significance of Sexuality.

On Sunday, December 13, 2015, we will have a presentation from Paul Clark of the Metro Vancouver Alliance, on mobilizing progressive groups around common issues of concern.

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

On Sunday, December 27, 2015, we will see a video featuring Guy Standing speaking about his book The Precariat: The New, Dangerous Class where he 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.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we may decide to change the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting or we may stick with the choice of Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law as decided at the November book club meeting.

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 March 1, 2016 book club selection.

The February book club selection is Believing Bullshit by Stephen Law unless we decide otherwise at the December 1, 2015 meeting.  The February meeting will be on Tuesday, 2 February 2016 at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of the meeting, we will decide on the April 5, 2016 book club selection.


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.

Our letter in the Vancouver Sun

On Saturday the Vancouver Sun published our letter to the editor calling on the BC and Canadian governments to stop delaying physician-assisted dying in Canada. Once you've read our letter, please share it and make sure to send a letter to your MLA using Dying With Dignity Canada's tool.

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. 

More News

The Good


There was a worldwide series of demonstrations for climate justice this past Sunday, November 29, 2015. The rally in Paris, site of the upcoming climate talks, had been deemed illegal for security reasons, but protesters showed up anyway. The French police then attacked the demonstration with tear-gas. The Vancouver rally had about 5000 attendees. There were a total of approximately 600,000 participants in the event in hundreds of cities around the world, including ones in Surrey and Kelowna. The image is of the poster for the Vancouver event. Several local progressive groups had literature tables at the event as well as petitions to stop the BC and Federal government approval of various fossil fuel related projects. 


At the Paris Climate talks (COP21) Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hopes to attract green investments to the city. From News "With international leaders meeting in Paris to discuss climate action, Vancouver’s mayor is making a push to bring more green investment our direction." 


Scientist have discovered two genes which render cells immune to the HIV virus' mechanism for attaching to the cell walls of potential host cells. This could be a promising new avenue for treating AIDS. The image is a schematic of an HIV virus particle.

Scientist have developed a blood test for clinical depression. The video explains what is involved.

Peruvian first nations people living in the rain forest far from any electrical grid are benefiting from a new LED lighting system that draws electrical power from plant nutrients. Plantalámparas are an ideal solution for an area where there are lots of plants but little infrastructure. The video shows how the system works.

LeadNowConnect.jpg has a comprehensive online questionnaire about various political issues facing Canadians.  Here is our chance to influence the priorities of this organization.

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

DollarTankfinancial_war250.jpg documents the monumental swindle that is the US and Canadian war industry. Vast amounts of money lost to fraud and arming both sides of civil wars around the world were highlighted.


I wasn't sure if this article was going to be part of The Good or The Bad.  If you've gotta have an army, by all means, it should be a cute army.  Kudos to Japan!  Thanks to The New Yorker magazine's Matt Alt for bringing this story to our attention. 

 The Ugly


From NBC News, a harrowing story of Iraqi religious minority Yazidi women telling of rape and enslavement by ISIS fighters. Some were sold for $10 or 10 cigarettes, as spoils of war. ISIS fighters quote Islamic scripture as justification for these actions.


US GOP presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, in what must be an effort to establish his "wingnut-cred" among the Tea-Partiers who vote in GOP primaries, has declared he is prepared to send in the national guard to prevent women from getting abortions. I suspect this is a last-ditch effort on Mike's part to appear at least as out there as Ben Carson.


And in case you get the impression that GOP presidential candidate absurdity is a guy thing, here's a story about Carly Fiorina. While it is satire, it is so close to the truth that it is really hard to tell. From the poison pen of The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz.  


Ok, one last belated ugly. Possibly the ugliest of them all. Scott Walker, the Republican governor of Wisconsin, has bankrupted food banks just in time for Christmas.

 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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