On Today’s Awful Hate Crime In Orlando

Well fuck this horror. Dan Savage covers the massacre comprehensively here. Jeet Heer weighs in here. The Guardian has its usual excellent coverage here. There’s a candlelight vigil at Q Nightclub in a few minutes (8 p.m., 2070 Broad St.). It’s open to all ages and everyone’s welcome.

A few additional thoughts:

1. On religion Faith-based bigotry has got to end. Doesn’t matter if its Christians, Jews, Muslims or Rastafarians — there needs to be be zero tolerance of any beliefs that any alleged deities oppose LGBTQ equality. We saw again today that bigoted religious ideas have deadly consequences for LGBTQ people. If your church/synogogue/mosque/faith community is prejudiced against queers, leave it for a better one (or if you’re tuff, fight back and change it).

2. On conservatives Both in Canada and south of the border, conservatism has become synonymous with both unrestricted gun owner rights and homophobia. Guns case in point: in 2014 then-Justice Minister Peter MacKay wore a shirt supporting ownership of assault rifles. What an asshole. And homophobia? Two words: Brad Trost. Canada’s Conservatives only reversed their bigoted official position on same-sex marriage a couple of weeks ago — kinda late, guys. I want to live in a country where conservatism is an honourable, reasoned and legitimate political position. It hasn’t been for a long time (with a few rare exceptions). Fix your shit, conservatives.

3. On guns Look at any bullshit situation and it’s almost always about the money. For example, it’s blatantly obvious the National Rifle Association and other lobby groups allegedly fighting for Americans’ “right” to own assault rifles without restrictions are doing it because there’s big money in guns and money matters more to them than people’s lives. They don’t give a shit about anyone’s rights. It’s about profits. That said, it’s also obvious a lot of individual gun nuts support unlimited gun ownership rights because they think the threat of violence their weapons create keeps the socialists, feminists, minorities, atheists, gay agendavists and “libtards” from getting too uppity. Gun nuts want people to be afraid of them. It’s the only way their bigoted ideas can get respect these days. Something to keep in mind. See you at the vigil.

More Prayer In The Legislature Stuff

The Centre For Inquiry Canada has started a national petition campaign calling on the Saskatchewan government to end the practice of opening each session of the legislature with a Christian prayer as has been done since 1905. The Centre is also calling on Premier Brad Wall specifically to cease issuing an official Christian-themed Christmas message in his capacity as premier of Saskatchewan.

Both the prayer, and the Christian-themed message, go against the grain of a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in April 2015 that held that the state and its various agencies and representatives owe a duty of neutrality to all citizens in matters of religious belief or non-belief.

You can find out about the petition here.

Petition Circulating To End Prayer In The Legislature

The other day I posted about the Shift To Reason conference that was being held in Regina on Saturday. One initiative to come out of the conference, according to this CBC report, is a petition asking the Saskatchewan government to end the practice of opening each legislative session with an Anglican-derived prayer as has been the custom since the province entered Confederation in 1905.

The petition is a belated response to a Supreme Court ruling in April 2015 in a case involving city council meetings in Saguenay, QC that also opened with a prayer. In an unanimous decision, the court said that the state owed a duty of neutrality to all citizens in matters of religious belief (or non-belief) and that having a prayer at the start of a city council meeting violated that principle.

Following that ruling, Regina city council indicated it would end its practice of starting meetings with a prayer. While the ruling dealt specifically with a municipal council, the Supreme Court’s use of the word “state” seemed to leave open the possibility of the ruling having implications beyond the municipal level.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall was quite vocal in his belief that prayer had a place in the legislature and that his government was not interested in applying the Supreme Court decision to legislative proceedings. I did a news article on this issue in April, and wrote a follow-up editorial in June, suggesting that position likely wouldn’t pass constitutional muster.

It is true that, unlike city councils, provincial legislatures (and the federal Parliament) do enjoy a degree of autonomy from the legal framework we operate under as ordinary citizens. That autonomy is known as “parliamentary privilege”. But as I noted in my editorial, it operates only in very specific circumstances and is tied to rights that are absolutely indispensable to our elected representatives carrying out their legislative duties.

As individuals, Saskatchewan MLAs can pray or not as they wish. But when it comes to a state-sanctioned prayer in the legislature, it’s impossible to contemplate a court in the 21st century holding that prayer was indispensable to MLAs carrying out their duties and that parliamentary privilege therefore protected them from an unanimous Supreme Court ruling.

Hopefully we won’t have to go through a costly legal battle to have this issue resolved. But given the Sask. Party government’s track record on stubborn adherence to patently unconstitutional positions, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

RSO Special Performance

If you’re in the mood for some classical music to commemorate the holiday season from a Christian perspective, the Regina Symphony Orchestra is presenting two performances of German-born composer George Frideric Handel’s 1742 choral opus Messiah this weekend.

The first goes at Knox Met Church on Saturday Dec. 12 at 8 p.m., and will see the RSO, with Hart Godden as guest conductor, joined on stage by the Regina Philharmonic Chorus, Halcyon Chamber Choir and several soloists.

The second performance of Messiah will be held at the same venue on Sunday, Dec. 13 at 3 p.m. It will take the form of a sing-a-long with members of the audience invited to belt it out to the best of their ability.

You can find out more about both performances on the RSO website.

About Yesterday’s TL;DR Post On Paul Dearn

Yesterday I wrote an overwrought  325-word blog post that facetiously demanded NDP aide Paul Dearn resign for once tweeting “go fuck yourself” to the former pope, Benedict.

I should have just written: “Paul Dearn didn’t say anything wrong. Pope Benedict persecuted gay people. He also covered for child molesters. Fuck that guy. Rock on, Paul Dearn.”

I apologize.

Not A Defence Of Mulcair Aide Paul Dearn

Hey look! It’s not just Conservatives! Other political parties have bad apples too!

Case in point: the federal NDP is taking heat because a senior aide to party leader Tom Mulcair tweeted angry, rude stuff about ex-Pope Benedict a couple of years ago. Mulcair Aide Shawn Dearn’s tweets included F-bombs and lots of anger. Dearn has now apologized and Mulcair has forgiven him, but some still think he should resign. Because clearly, Dearn is just as bad as Conservative candidates who urinate in coffee mugs or mock the disabled.

The people who want Dearn to resign are right. This is exactly the same kind of situation!

Surely the fact that Dearn, incidentally a gay man who, like every LGBTQ person on the planet, has been persecuted by the Catholic church  (which has lobbied governments to block same-sex marriagefought gay-straight alliances in Canadian schools, fired its own gay employees, published homophobic propaganda, and one could Google this shit all day and barely scratch the surface) should never have expressed anger before he held his current political job! He should keep his grievances to himself!

And the fact Dearn was apparently outraged by the Church’s massive molestation scandal? Totally irrelevant! You can’t insult religious leaders just because their organizations have been havens for child rapists!

The goddamn nerve of this fucking guy!

Now, SOME naive souls probably think political leaders could even benefit from advisers who lose their cool over organized homophobia and the sexual abuse of children. What nonsense. No, when Dearn tweeted, “Stop calling the misogynist, homophobic, child-molesting Catholic church a ‘moral authority.’ It’s not,” he sealed his fate.

Bottom line: Dearn is as bad as any Conservative fraudster, election cheater or coffee cup pisser. There’s no moral difference between his sin and theirs. He must resign immediately or the federal NDP will lose all credibility.

Jesus fucking Christ. I can only pray Dearn never tweeted anything as offensive as this:

Et Tu, Ray?

From testimony that’s been emerging at the Mike Duffy trial in Ottawa it seems that everyone and their dog in the Prime Minister’s Office knew of the plan that was hatched whereby former chief of staff Nigel Wright would cut a check for $90,000 from his own bank account to cover the disgraced senator’s improperly claimed living and personal expenses.

Here’s a Toronto Star report that lists a good dozen or so high-profile Conservatives who either participated in or were aware of the plan which was devised to short-circuit an audit that was underway into Duffy’s expense claims and deflect blame away from the Conservatives and the PMO for first appointing Duffy as a senator, and then using him as a pitchman for the party at numerous events across the country on the public dime.

Current chief of staff Ray Novak is one of the aforementioned Conservatives who was apparently in the loop. He’s been described as Stephen Harper’s closest friend and ally, and in denying that Novak knew anything about the Wright payment, Tory campaign spokesman Kory Teneycke has previously said, “it’s unfathomable that Ray would be aware of a payment … and not tell the prime minister.”

Yet, according the Wonderland world that the Conservative hierarchy inhabits, that’s apparently what happened. Novak did know, and he, along with dozens of other PMO staffers and upper echelon Conservatives, didn’t tell the prime minister.

Writing in the National Post yesterday, Andrew Coyne penned this very moving and heart-felt column sympathizing with Stephen Harper at the extreme sense of betrayal and confusion he must be feeling now that it is emerging that he was the victim of a party-wide conspiracy to keep the whole sordid truth of l’Affaire Duffy from his delicate ears. Truly, it is one of the more Shakespearean moments in Canadian political history, and our sympathy and condolences also go out to the prime minister at this time.

’71

For nearly two decades now, since a peace agreement was signed in 1998, Ireland has enjoyed relative tranquility and, until recently anyway, prosperity. Prior to that, though, the country was racked by sectarian violence related to British/Protestant control in Northern Ireland and Nationalist/Catholic forces based in the Republic of Ireland.

This American film, directed by Yann Demange, is set during the height of “the Troubles” in 1971. It takes place in a single night, and concerns a British soldier cut off from his unit after a street riot in Belfast who must survive until he is rescued.

’71 screens at the RPL Film Theatre Saturday June 20 and Sunday June 21 at 9 p.m. Here’s the trailer

Harper Jumps The Shark On Pro-Israel Stance

Last summer, we had some coverage of the Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement in connection with an ill-advised partnership the University of Regina’s Faculty of Business Administration was contemplating with the Policing and Homeland Security Studies department of Hebrew University’s Faculty of Law to provide an MBA in Public Safety to Regina students.

Patterned after efforts in the 1980s to put economic, political and socio-cultural pressure on South Africa to end apartheid, the BDS movement is non-violent and seeks through moral suasion to pressure Israel to halt the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and to enter into constructive negotiations with the Palestinian people to find a way out of the current quagmire in the region. Supporters of BDS in Canada include the United Church of Canada, Canadian Quakers, labour unions, student groups and more.

More recently, we’ve written on Bill C-51, a piece of federal legislation passed last week by the Harper government that would greatly expand the investigative powers of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and related agencies to ferret out terrorist activity at home and abroad.

Critics of Bill C-51 accuse the Harper Conservatives of gross overeach in the bill, which would broaden the concept of “terrorism” to include pretty much any thought, word or action that the government deems harmful to Canada’s political or economic interests.

Now, CBC journalist Neil Macdonald is reporting that the Harper Conservatives are indicating that they are willing to use provisions in Bill C-51 to charge advocates of BDS with hate crimes against Israel. Any move to do so would be contrary to the constitutional rights of Canadians related to free speech, conscience, assembly and more, but that’s unlikely to deter the prime minister and his followers who have made no secret of their fervent loyalty to the State of Israel.

They may have political and economic reasons for doing so, but as evangelical Christians Harper and his cronies also regard the current conflict in the Middle East as a step toward fulfilling Biblical prophecy tied to armageddon and the second coming of Christ. In essence, they’re totally cool with the idea of the world ending so they can go to their eternal reward, while non-believers, including Jews who fail to convert once Jesus returns to lay a smackdown on everyone, will be dispatched to Hell.

What a joke.

Memo To Premier Wall: It’s The Marble Palace, Not Marble Church

Following a 9-0 Supreme Court ruling on April 15 that Saguenay city council’s practice of opening meetings with a Roman Catholic-themed prayer was unconstitutional, Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall and Federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay both expressed support for the continued use of Christian prayer in the Legislature and House of Commons.

We have an article in the April 16-29 Prairie Dog that argues that, in light of the Supreme Court ruling, this is not a tenable legal position.

The ruling dealt specifically with a municipal council. But in its judgment the court refers repeatedly to the “state” in discussing the duty of neutrality that is owed to all citizens when it comes to constitutional freedoms of religion, conscience, assembly and whatnot. If anything, University of Ottawa law professor Carissima Mathen notes in Prairie Dog, the duty owed by higher (and more powerful) levels of government is even greater than at the municipal level.

Provincial legislatures and the House of Commons do enjoy a degree of autonomy through parliamentary privilege. This privilege is tied to rights such as free speech, freedom from coercion and the ability to launch inquiries that MLAs and MPs need to make decisions as our representatives in government.

This privilege is not absolute, however, and it’s a huge stretch to suggest that prayer is integral to the proper functioning of the Legislature/House of Commons and thus protected by parliamentary privilege. If individual politicians want to pray on their own, that is their right. But prayer should not be part of state deliberations at any level.

Also, simply because God is mentioned in the preamble to The Constitution Act (1982) does not mean the Constitution is interpreted through a Christian filter. In fact, the Supreme Court specifically said in the judgment that nothing in the preamble justifies limiting the constitutional rights of Canadians.

Were someone to launch a human rights complaint against prayer in the Saskatchewan legislature and/or House of Commons, defending the practice would be “far from a slam dunk”, says Mathen.

Both the Wall and Harper governments have a history of throwing good money after bad in defending indefensible legislation in court. Were they to adopt the same legal strategy here, not only would a lot of scarce government resources be wasted, they would also be flaunting their opposition to a Supreme Court ruling that is perfectly in keeping with contemporary Canadian society where a multitude of religions exist, and many Canadians subscribe to no religious belief at all.

Je Suis Charlie

Yeah, I’m pretty pissed off right now. In fact, I was going to use my posting privileges to get on Dog Blog and put up a bunch of Charlie Hebdo covers to show my solidarity with those slain in Paris.

But then I had second thoughts.

It occurred to me that it’d be pretty irresponsible to post cartoons that so offended some Islamic extremists in France that it inspired them to shoot up the office of an alternative newspaper when I’m safely on the other side of the planet.

That’s what it’s come to. I decided to not risk posting some stupid cartoons on Dog Blog because I was worried about what that might open my pals in Regina up to.

I guess the gunmen won. Fuck you, gunmen.

Here, courtesy of Slate, are those Charlie Hebdo covers along with some handy commentary on them.

Merry CHRISTmas

I appreciate the pagan origins of Christmas in celebrations our distant ancestors held to mark the winter solstice. Millennia ago, it must have been unimaginably difficult for them to cope with the short hours of daylight, long nights, frigid temperatures, frozen water supplies, lack of fresh food sources and other challenges. So props to them for developing crude astronomical calendars such as Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland (pictured) to chart the winter solstice, and for devising various rituals to articulate their hope for an end to winter and the eventual return of spring.

As for the modern incarnations of Christmas tied to Christianity and the secular tradition of frenzied gift-giving, it’s not really anything I’m into. Last night, though, while cueing up a concert video on YouTube to listen to while I did some writing, I did have an opportunity to check out the first 10 seconds of Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall’s Christmas message to the province.

I was expecting the usual sort of “peace on Earth, goodwill toward our fellow humans” type message. Instead, Wall opted for a hardcore Christian theme. Here’s how it started:

Seven hundred years before the first Christmas, one of many promises by Old Testament prophets was made about the coming of the Christ. “For unto us a child is born,” wrote Isaiah. “Unto us a Son is given. And the government shall be upon his shoulder. And his name shall be called Wonderful, Councilor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

Couple that with prime minister Stephen Harper’s Christmas message where he urged Canadians to pray for Canadian military personnel who are currently waging war against ISIS militants in Iraq, and it was quite a double-dose Christian theology from our political leaders this holiday season.

Ironically, once Wall delivered his introductory remarks, in which he drew a pretty strong link between Christianity and the concept of government in a modern secular/multi-faith society, he did speak about the importance of peace. As for the West’s current campaign against ISIS, here’s a news flash: after this latest crusade is over, there still won’t be peace in the region.

Prayers won’t do much good either. Not when countries such as Canada and the U.S. provide unconditional military and political support for Israel as it continues to create new settlements in Palestinian held areas of the West Bank and Jerusalem. And not when we continue to prop up corrupt dictators in some countries in the region, and tear down others who displease us, creating ethnic and religious instability and power vacuums that radical groups such as ISIS are only too happy to fill — at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, and the displacement of millions more.

Really, the situation in the Middle East these days reminds me of South Africa in the 1970s and ’80s, where the apartheid regime would fund guerilla groups in frontline states such as Mozambique, Angola and Botswana to conduct terrorist operations. Not only did these South African-backed terrorists destabilize existing governments, they also sabotaged schools, hospitals, rail lines and other vital infrastructure, keeping residents of those countries in perpetual poverty and despair.

“Doing the Lord’s work” I believe it’s called in certain circles. And it’s hard to believe in 2015 that it’s still going on.

Luther Lecture

Luther Lecture (Moe-Lobeda, Cynthia)Now that the academic year is in full swing at the University of Regina there’s a regular diet of lectures and other special events to look forward to. Luther College has been hosting this lecture since 1977. Some of the speakers who have graced the podium in that time include Northrop Frye, Helen Caldicott and John Ralston Saul.

On Monday, Sept. 22 Seattle University professor Cynthia Moe-Lobeda (pictured) will add her name to the Luther Lecture roster. According to her bio, Moe-Lobeda has lectured/consulted in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and many parts of North America on such topics as theology, ethics, climate justice, environmental racism, globalization, moral agency, and eco-feminist theology.

The title of her talk in Regina is “Climate Justice: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation”. Again, the lecture goes Monday at Luther College Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. For more information call 306-585-5034.

“Outlaw Divorce, Not Guns”: Bill Whatcott

Jesus H. Christ. At the other end of the link in this tweet, Whatcott reprints a Lifesite news article by some awful dude named Michael Cook about mass murderer Elliot Rodgers that includes such nuggets of reason as:

Gun control is opposed by many Americans because gun-toting is said to be a fundamental freedom. But what about the fundamental freedom of quick-and-easy no-fault divorce? Marriage breakdown is one of the most serious problems faced by the US – and every other Western society. It destroys lives. And, as the latest rampage killing demonstrates, not just the lives of the kids of the divorced couple. Perhaps they wouldn’t need more gun control if they had better divorce control.

And:

Behind the deluded self-pity, it seems clear that Elliot Rodger was a lonely youngster starved for a father and shaken to the core by his parents’ divorce. A curious boy who had no one to talk to about the facts of life. A sick teenager who had no one to guide him through adolescent temptations

And:

It’s a familiar story. Most of the men on the never-ending list of rampage killers in the Unites States came from homes where the parents were divorced or separated. Predictably, their own relationships were fraught as well.

Yikes. I hope most people recognize that this bullshit is part of an insane and terrifying worldview. Continue reading ““Outlaw Divorce, Not Guns”: Bill Whatcott”

Death Debate UPDATED

If you’re the sort of person who finds discussions about science and religion entertaining, then you’re in luck because at 6:45 CST (I think that’s 5:45 here? UPDATE: Whoops. Got it wrong. The debate started at 4:45 here. I’m listening to it right now.) there will be an Intelligence Squared debate on the subject of “Death Is Not Final“. It will be streamed live at the Neurologica blog.

Arguing that death is indeed final are two people I really enjoy listening to: Steven Novella, a neurologist and host of Skeptics Guide To The Universe, and Sean Carroll, a physicist at the California Institute of Technology.

Arguing that death is not final are Ebon Alexander, a neurosurgeon and author of Proof Of Heaven, and Raymond Moody, an MD and author of Life After Life.

Personally, my money’s on Alexander and Moody being completely routed. But I guess we’ll find out at six. In the meantime, here’s a talk Sean Carroll gave last year on the subject of purpose and the universe. It’s a bit long but I found it interesting…

Weekly Reckoning: You Won’t Believe What’s Reckoned Next Edition

weekly-reckoning‘Sup? I found two beetles on my kitchen floor this morning as I was sweeping up. One of them scuttled for the corner but the other ran straight into the dustbin, which gave me little choice but to dump him into the garbage along with everything else. That’s evolution in action, folks. One will go on to found a line of successful Corner Beetles, the other a genetic dynasty of insects that enjoy hanging out in little piles of coffee grounds and cat hair. Anyway, let’s reckon with a few things.

1. GRAVE OF E.T. DISCOVERED  One of the most enduring stories in videogame history appears to be true after all. Back in the early ’80s, Atari’s legendarily awful E.T: The Extra Terrestrial tie-in game was rushed to market in order to take advantage of the movie’s popularity. The game proved to be so unplayable that thousands of unsold copies were said to have been dumped in a concrete-covered landfill somewhere in New Mexico. Well what do you know.

2. APPARENTLY BEATING WOMEN IS ALL PART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM  Entrepreneur and woman beater Gurbaksh Chahal, who was caught on video hitting  his girlfriend 117 times over the course of a half-hour, managed to escape jail time but has been booted from the board of his company. His defense, apparently, is that he “lost his temper” becasue  his girlfriend was sleeping with other people for money. That’s right, the old “I didn’t do it and anyway she was a whore so if I did happen to beat her brutally, you understand” defense. To sum up: Bam*117=Justified. He also mentions the American Dream for some reason.

3. AT LEAST YOU CAN’T PUT A COPYRIGHT ON IRONY  I keep on coming back to this story because I can’t quite believe it. But here it is anyway: publishers Lawrence & Wishart are claiming that the Marxist Internet Archive is infringing on the company’s intellectual property by hosting works from the 50-volume “Marx Engels Collected Works.” I would have thought that Marx and Engels’ writings would have passed into the public domain long ago, but intellectual property and copyright is a tangled and thorny issue, and most attempts to navigate through it end up in torn clothes and deep scratches and insect bites. The Archive has promised to delete all the offending texts by May 1, which some of you may know as International Workers Day. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go cry into my means of production.

4. WHOOPS  It seems that some of the bodies sent home to families after the South Korean ferry disaster were, um, not the right bodies.

5. INCREASINGLY EFFICIENT CHURCH REPORTS 100% INCREASE IN WEEKEND CANONIZATION RATES  Pope Paul XXIII and John Paul II were canonized this weekend. John Paul II celebrated by killing a guy.

BONUS FOOTWEAR SIGHTING  I saw this shoe on a fence on 14th Avenue yesterday. Better claim it if it’s yours.

through the fence

Weekly Reckoning: Three-day Recharge Edition

weekly-reckoningWelcome everyone! It’s a turkey kind of day in which we all celebrate the horrific death and miraculous return of Jesus. It’s the day when we hide candy and chocolates around the house in the hope that the Son of God will show up to collect them, whereupon we can trap him and drag the secret of resurrection from his weary body. As usual, though, children descended on the hidden treats and carried them off to their nests of blanket scraps and spring bracken. Stupid kids.

Of course, that’s only if you’re Christian. Secular types take the weekend to commemorate the death of Officer Alex J. Murphy and his rebirth as Robocop.

1. GOODBYE ALASTAIR MACLEOD  One of Canada’s greatest writers died this weekend at 77. MacLeod was born in North Battleford and grew up in Nova Scotia (aka. “watery Saskatchewan”). He published three collections of short stories and one novel. At my wedding, my father quoted from MacLeod’s work and the words were so simple, clear and beautiful that they were almost impossible to hear. If Jesus returns this Easter Sunday, I picture him passing MacLeod on the way and stopping for a while, just for the pleasure of his company.

2. ALSO, HAPPY 4/20 DAY  In a delightful twist sure to make certain people very happy, Easter Sunday falls on April 20 this year, or 4/20 Day, which is everyone’s day to celebrate the healing/relaxing/whatevering powers of cannabis. Pro-marijuana activists hit Parliament Hill today to promote pro-pot policy and generally do their thing, which is smoke marijuana (read prairie dog’s “The State of Pot 2014” for some excellent coverage of the topic). One day, and I think it’ll be soon, people will shake their heads in amazement that people ever had to rally to promote marijuana usage. They’ll also shake their heads because the air will be so thick with pot smoke that no one will be able to see. That’s right, hippies: marijuana cigarettes will make you go blind.

3. BACK IN BLACK, ORPHAN-STYLE  Is this news? I’m not sure, but the second season of Orphan Black, starring Regina’s Tatiana Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney, Tatania Maslaney and Tatania Maslaney, premiered last night and it was probably the best episode yet. Everyone agrees with me because I’m right. I look forward to upcoming guest appearances from Tatiana Maslaney.

4. LITERALLY THE BEST NEWS I’VE HEARD TODAY  If you’re an unforgiving grammar jerk like me, you can’t handle the endless misuse of the word “literally” (on the other hand, you may be the forgiving kind, choosing to see it as an example of linguistic exuberance), there’s a Chrome browser extension that will turn every instance of “literally” into “figuratively.” I am literally imagining this right now.

5. A POSSIBLE CANDIDATE FOR IMMORTALITY Do you, like me, suspect that Queen Elizabeth may never die? That she simply sheds old bodies and climbs into new ones, and by that method has ruled over Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Normans for the last millennium? Anyway, her current shell turns 88 tomorrow.

Comedy and Magic Night

Tonight at the University of Regina’s Riddell Centre, the Regina-based Centre For Inquiry is presenting a night of comedy and magic. The organization’s mandate is to promote awareness of secular values and discourage belief in myth, superstition and other non-empirical ways of understanding existence.

CFI had initially planned a slightly more provocative show with American YouTube star Dusty Smith as the headliner. Through a whole series of videos, Smith has carved out quite a career for himself as a debunker of a hardcore religious ideology. But apparently the Lord had other plans for Smith tonight as plans to book him fell through.

Most of the other details remain the same. Tickets are $20, doors are at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 6:30 p.m. More information can be obtained by calling  306-569-0108. And to give you a sense of what Smith would have brought to the party, here’s a video where he takes a run at fundamentalist Christian propagandist Jack T. Chick and his infamous “Chick Tracts”: