Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ad Omnibus

Everyone knows the back story by now: OC Transpo has turned down the "Probably No God" bus-side ads, justifying this decision by a series of prevarications. As it stands, Ottawa busses can carry ads for the evangelistic Alpha Course, the Anglican Diocese, pro-life pregnancy counselling services, and (appearing soon) random capsule Bible lessons. But suggesting there's no God? That might offend people! Nooooooo!

So, the issue went before the city's Transit Committee today -- and actually made the tag end of the six o'clock news. After some nice pics and a sound-bite from some of my fellow Ottawa Humanists, we got committee chair Alex Cullen:
To say that this particular group cannot speak -- if you follow the logic -- means that no Christian can speak, no Muslim can speak, no Hindu can speak, no Jew can speak, because these are all....[interruption by another committee member]
Cullen gets it (and so, to his credit, does the guy running the Bus Stop Bible Studies): If "viewpoint" advertising is allowed at all, then everyone gets their shot at it. If Cullen ever runs for mayor, I'm voting for him (unless of course the other Alex runs again).

Then, cut to Councillor Marianne Wilkinson (whom I believe was the interruptor):
I think that to actually demean religions groups in this city is not what we should be doing at OC Transpo, so I can't support this and I think that you were wrong Mr. Chair that it doesn't do that, because to me as a Christian it does...
No, Marianne. Let me explain "demeaning" to you: "Anyone who believes in God is a moron" -- that would indeed be demeaning of religious individuals and groups. But: "There's probably [not even definitely] no God"? In what universe is that "demeaning"? If I saw that ad 25 years ago, I would have said "No, I disagree", and then had the argument -- but demeaning? How about: "Marianne Wilkinson is a thin-skinned twit" -- yes, that's personally demeaning. Unfortunately, you're providing evidence that it's true.
Our folks made the Metro tabloid:

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Darwin Week in Ottawa

Just because we don't worship Charles Darwin doesn't mean we will refrain from celebrating all those round numbers: Carleton University has a series of lectures planned next week (plus one in April) to celebrate the Darwin anniversaries.

Monday Feb 9th
"Darwin and the Evolution of Reasons" – Daniel Dennett
(Reception following this event is sponsored by the Humanist Association of Ottawa)

Tuesday Fed 10th
"Darwin's Landscape Vision" - Michael Summerfield

Wednesday Feb 11th
"Putting Darwinism and Religion in their Place" - David Livingstone

Thursday Feb 12th
"The Struggle for Existence in the World of Climate Change" Charles Krebs

Friday Feb 13th
"Killing Time: An Explanation for the Contrivances of Males for Seizing and Restraining Females that Darwin Did Not Attempt to Explain" - Dr Patricia Gowaty

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm an A-bus-ist, Too!

Though the transit strike is officially over, apparently it will take several weeks to get the busses back on the road again. (What, these things fall apart just sitting in the garage?) So while there is some talk of bringing the atheist bus ad campaign to Ottawa, for the next little while this is going to be the main sentiment of Ottawans, of any or no religious persuasion:
Ironically, that's also the current situation back where the bus campaign started.
(Image generated by Bus slogan generator)

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Now that's a BIRD!

This handsome guy or gal was perched in our backyard about noon today. We couldn't get a look at its back, but identify it as a probable Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii). Apparently, they're not unknown around Ottawa. It seemed to be hanging out with three crows, who were perched in the other tree, and they all flew off together while I was walking around the yard.