Monday, January 26, 2009

A step in the right direction!

Before we get to the main dish of this evening, I think it’s appropriate that we treat ourselves to an historical appetizer so that we may better enjoy the subtle flavours and discrepancies of the following courses.

Canada as been, since 1760, although it was not called that at the time, under British Rule. Even though we brought back our constitution from England in 1982 after the Canadian Act was passed which made England give up all remaining constitutional and legislative authority over Canada, we are technically still under their rule: we are part of the Commonwealth, we have the Queen of England on our money and we sill have her representative at the head of the country, the Governor General. Mind you that title is in large part honorific, yet it as seen resurgence in its validity recently, when all hell broke loose at the end of this year in our parliament.

Now on to the main course, the article: U of A tones down God reference. The article, talks about how the University of Alberta, after a student group, the U of A Atheists and Agnostics, campaigned for a revision to the old charge, changed it from encouraging grads to use their degrees: “for the glory of God and the honour of your country” to “for the uplifting of the whole people; to inspire the human spirit; for all who believe, to serve your God; and to pursue more steadfastly whatsoever things are true.” This made me realise that these little changes, variations in sentences, can be the catalyst to major changes, through the growth, the adaptability that academic institutions have shown, it can hopefully inspire other institutions and bodies, like our government.

To know that our Governor General, someone as influential and as present as she is on the public scene, now a days, might be uttering those words, make me think that we are not too far from the day where we will see everyone as equals, will allow race, sex, language, religion AND the lack thereof, to be seen as a normal thing, to be understood as mundane and unworthy of a headline anymore, for it to become transparent in the eyes of our nations and allow them to focus on reality and the very real problems that it brings.

As desert arrives, let me conclude and say that, it is uplifting to see in the media swamp of war thorn countries, job loss and economic down times, a small oasis for the evolution of the human mind and more so over, for tolerance, nay acceptance of all our differences

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strength Through Transparency- Freedom Through Doubt

Good day, night or evening,

Welcome to the first installment of my web log entitled: The Shield of Glass.

My name is John-Frederic and after many sleepless nights toiling about life, the universe and everything, I have decided to create this immaterial piece of medium to present, push and promote critical thinking, to generate, expand and/or resume on a myriad of ideas and concepts revolving around subjects such as the media, science, its evil twin* pseudoscience and the repercussions they all can have on the inhabitants of this pale blue dot we call Earth.

I first started wanting to create this type of popular communication beast years ago. Back then, my motives were very different from today. My main focus was on creating a forum or blog that would gather accounts of supernatural events, conspiracy theories and correlations that could find the links hidden in the dark recesses of their genesis…that was then and this is now.

Tracing back the steps I took to be here now, I can write with certitude that it all started a year ago this march as I was listening to Steve Mirsky on the SciAm podcast. The interest I had in Scientific American has been present in me at a very young age because my mother, being a Microbiologist by trade, had them around the house. In any case, Mr Mirsky was mentioning a group that he had podcasted with not too long ago, The Skeptic Guide to the Universe, that they were a great fun bunch and that we should go check them out.

Now my first thought here was, “Great, skeptics! Those guys who can’t see through the web of lies the government spins and are close-minded about everything. Still it could be a laugh to hear what they have to say and I should still see what lies on the other side of my point of view”.

To make a long and winding story short, I slowly but surely saw the light in the darkness I had surrounded myself in and finally found a clear path to being open minded: the best way to be open minded, is to be open minded enough to consider the possibility that IT, what ever it may be, might not exist!

Getting back to the core of this entity, the aim these entries will be taking will be of an informative nature, first and foremost, yet will not shy away from taking a provocative, nay controversial, even sometimes humorous tone, by going down roads, paved in science, facts and empiricism, yet seeming wild and less traveled.
I will welcome comments, be it opinions, questions or constructive criticism, as long as they do not degenerate into plain, empty, blatant defamation. Through these comments I am sure I will learn and grow as much if not more then those who will read the two cents I have to put out in this World Wide Web that we weave.

On a final note, I would like to thank the many people that have motivated and inspired me to hammer the Shield of Glass into existence:
1)people I admire greatly like George Hrab, James Randi, the aforementioned Skeptic's Guide crew, Brian Dunning , Penn Jillette, and many more, the list could go on for a while too long.
2)people who have supported like my dear wife, my daughter, the ever interesting Iopha, CE791102, therapsid, Belfana, and many more who even without them knowing pushed me to strive for new hights, new endeavours.

*(although the use of the word twin here might be too strong since it would implicate a close genetic relation between the two; after thinking it through, arch nemesis seems to be better suited to describe the relation those two concepts share )