Tag: Beliefs

Day 995: Little Rivalry On The Prairie

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Newcomers to the city of Edmonton inevitably have questions regarding our perpetual rivals to the south, or what has come to be known as the Battle of Alberta. They don’t ask me – I purposely sport a fanny-pack and 20 pounds of camera gear when I wander about the city so that tourists don’t talk to me – but they’ll ask somebody. The answer they’ll probably get is “hockey”, which is blatantly misleading and 100% wrong.

Edmonton and Calgary have held a semi-snarly relationship for much longer than the history of professional hockey in either city. Far from a rivalry of mere convenience (we are the only two major cities in the province), the Battle of Alberta extends to fundamental belief systems, to political preferential treatment, to bigotry, inclusion, and of course… money.

Which is truly the greater city? As a lifelong resident of Edmonton, my honest answer is that I don’t care. Both cities are gorgeous: they have the Stampede, we have the continent’s most impressive Fringe Theatre Festival. They have proximity to the magnificent mountains, we have an exquisite river valley. They are the economic home-base of the province, we have a gigantic mall.

But enough of the niceness. Let’s see how this got ugly.

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The Battle of Alberta extends for centuries before there was even an Alberta over which to battle. The Blackfoot Confederacy was the political union among the Blackfoot tribes who moseyed about southern Alberta and Montana, killing buffalo and living a northern version of the indigenous lifestyle of the American Indian. Up in the boreal forest that covered the northern half of the as-yet-undesignated province, the Cree and their allies (known as the Iron Confederacy, making the history of this region sound like a bad-ass Native version of Game of Thrones) lived a subarctic lifestyle, which involved trapping and fur-trading. Read more…

Day 783: On The Attack – Scientology Puts On Its Ugly Face

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Not being particularly fond of organized religion, I nevertheless try to approach such topics with tact and compassion. So long as you’re not trying to bomb me, regulate my sex life or tell me how much bacon I’m allowed to cram into my eat-hole, I won’t attack your beliefs. But when it comes to Scientology, something about the organization clumps my britches. I’ve written before about the church’s vicious corporal punishment and member imprisonment, but I was already a little skeeved by this church, even before that. Something about the entire thing just ain’t right.

That’s not to say that the church’s lower-ranked adherents aren’t finding solace and comfort in whatever weirdness they are taught (and I’m not singling out Scientology with that word – if you look deeply enough, there’s weirdness in all religions). But for a church so damn young they have seen more than their fair share of scandals, lawsuits, and outright criminal activity.

This is no religious persecution either. The Church of Scientology has gone to ridiculous lengths to strike back against critics and vocal opponents, so much so as to suggest a staggering insecurity regarding the foundation of their beliefs. Maybe they just want to keep the tax credit, I don’t know. But there’s no excuse for the way they tormented Paulette Cooper.

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In 1968, Paulette had recently scored a Masters degree in psychology, and she kicked off her freelance writing career by penning an investigative look into L. Ron Hubbard’s newfangled scientology religion. Paulette sifted through a lot of Dianetic dirt, and made herself some mighty powerful enemies in the process. How powerful? Once her book, The Scandal of Scientology was released in 1971, some of the higher-ups in the organization made it their mission to destroy her.

Not to quash the sales of her book, mind you… they wanted Paulette’s life on a flambéed skewer. Read more…

Day 703: Come Children, Let’s Gather ‘Round And Hate

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Sometimes I really hate humans.

What started out as a jocular journey through the goofiness of North Korean barbershop propaganda turned remarkably dark and sinister, and suddenly I was watching a dime-store Mickey Mouse knock-off get beaten to death by an Israeli interrogator. You know, for the kids.

Propaganda can cut through the truth like a lightsaber through a Hostess Ding-Dong. It’s a universal comfort to believe that such a thing as objective and impartial reality exists, and that we can access it via the people in charge. Alas, for many leaders of faith and flag the truth is but a 1.6mm flathead screwdriver in the tool-belt of public dissemination. Obfuscation, indoctrination and manipulation are in there too, and sometimes those tools see a lot more action.

I like to think of myself as a tolerant, compassionate, and when the light glistens just the right way on the beer froth clinging to my beard, a ruggedly handsome man. I pledge my allegiance to no specific religion, yet I wish them all the best with their vows and beliefs, so long as they don’t infringe upon my world. But fuck these guys. This is just evil.

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Meet Farfur the Mouse. If your first thought is, “Hey, that looks a bit like Mickey; I wonder if Disney is pissed,” well you aren’t alone. Disney was pissed, but not just because someone crapped all over their trademarked character. No, Farfur is something decidedly more heinous than a copyright violation. Read more…

Day 421: The Number Of DOOM!!!

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People believe in some strange things. Some of these beliefs evolve into organized religions, others turn into cults, and the ones that don’t catch enough fan buzz get pigeon-holed into superstition. Had Jesus broken a mirror or walked under a ladder right before his betrayal and crucifixion, then these precautions would have been nestled into Christian preachers’ collective ammo cache, instead of haunting the footsteps of the superstitious among us.

But what about the triskaidekaphobics? Is it logical to fear the number thirteen? Do they turn down hotel rooms that end in ‘13’? Do they count their French fries to make sure the suspicious-looking shrew at Wendy’s didn’t slip them a multiple of thirteen along with their Double-Baconator? Have most of them placed themselves into a medically-induced coma until December 31 so they could avoid dealing with 2013?

Did they never bet money on a Kurt Warner-led team?

Did they never bet money on a Kurt Warner-led team?

Where did all this madness come from? Is thirteen really a bad-luck number?

The answer to the second question is either “No” or “Are you seriously asking that?” or “Mmfffkkk-off, I’m busy.”, depending on how many pints of McNally’s Extra Strong Ale I’ve consumed. The answer to the former is a little more interesting.

Ancient Persians believed that each of the twelve Zodiac constellations would take a turn ruling the earth for a thousand years, after which everything would fall to shit: geese would battle cows in the street, babies would shoot laser-boomerangs out their eyeballs and toasters would spontaneously explode. To this day, Persians leave their house on the thirteenth day of the Persian calendar, just in case. Read more…