Confidence and being a manly man

Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about non-verbal communications. Mostly how body language, the tone of your voice, your facial expressions and what you wear can affect the way people feel about the content of your message. In many contexts, these non verbal communications can be even more important than the content of what you are saying verbally. So much so, that the wrong body language can actually work against what you’re trying to say. If someone is aware of this, they can take advantage of these subconscious cues to help reinforce their message instead. So, on this thought, I had a talk with my boys about the importance of using their body to convey the right message (some great tips on this can be found at Vanessa Van Edwards’ Science Of People). Young teens can often feel a great deal of social anxiety, and it is usually […]... Read More

My Name Is Christopher

Several years ago, I started using ‘Xopher’ as my online handle, and I had a number of reasons for doing this. It was different, it was shorter than my real name that often didn’t even fit in forms I have to fill out, and it started with a freakin’ ‘X’! How cool is that? Another advantage that ‘Xopher’ had was that nobody ever shortened it to ‘Chris’. I’ve been called ‘X’, ‘zofer’, ‘ex-sofer’, but people who knew me as Xopher never called me Chris, and I really like that. I have old friends who call me Chris, and I’m ok with that. However, one of my pet peeves is to introduce myself to someone as Christopher only to have them call me Chris minutes later. When I introduced myself, I pronounced those other syllables for a reason – please don’t tell me I wasted my breath. Sadly, a big reason […]... Read More

Fucking Hipsters

This weekend, a friend of mine posted a somewhat negative rant on Facebook berating hipsters for being shallow and unauthentic. The post shocked me, not only because I know that this friend is a really kind and generally very positive person, but because I saw some of myself in this post. A year ago, I could have easily written something similar, only unlike my friend, it would have probably been from a more negative position. For many years, I was the type of person who could easily go on a rant about how terrible the fashion industry is. How it’s superficial, shallow, phony, insincere, etc. You name it, I had lots of bad things to say about it. It is only recently that I’ve learned how toxic this attitude is, for a number of really important reasons. It’s unnecessarily negative If you’re going to expend energy doing something, it should […]... Read More

Nick Hanauer, inequity and TED

I just read this really great article written by Nick Hanauer for Politico.com. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In my view, it’s a great argument by an extremely wealthy entrepreneur with the aim of convincing other entrepreneurs that social inequity is not only bad, but dangerous and self-defeating for plutocrats like himself. Apparently, I was hiding under a rock in 2012 when Hanauer created waves because his TED talk (see below) was not put online and promoted on TED’s website. Chris Anderson defended the exclusion of this video in a blog post, stating some of TED’s primary reasons for excluding this video were because it was “explicitly partisan” and “included a number of arguments that were unconvincing”. Anderson and TED did finally put up the video to presumably “spark a magnificent debate”, but only on YouTube and not in TED’s official channel. While I agreed with […]... Read More

Music I wrote as a teenager

Back when I was in high school and CEGEP, I thought that I was definitely going to be a composer. I spent all of my years in high school completely immersed in Bach and Mozart. Especially fugues, I was all about fugues — Die Kunst der Fuge totally blew my mind, especially contrapunctus III and (Mozart’s) K 546 (which is, not surprisingly, a fugue and is still my favourite piece of music of all time). These two pieces of music still give me goose bumps when I listen to them. When the Canadian Brass came out with The Canadian Brass Plays the Pachelbel Canon, which has 3 amazing arrangements of Bach fugues, I nearly wore out the tape. I transcribed the Little Fugue in G Minor before I learned that I could just go to the sheet music store and buy it (which I later did for the other two). […]... Read More

Merci Mme. Marois

Schadenfreude is fun and all, and Marois was far from perfect, but let’s not forget a few things: She was our provinces first woman premier. I’m sure there were many glass ceilings that she had to break through to get there. She served the public for almost 35 years! She shut down the shameful practice of asbestos mining in Quebec. She was instrumental in implementing universal daycare. She was a strong defender of the rights of women. Yeah, she had lots of faults too. Her charter of values was a terrible embarrassment to our province — She was une vieille matante and had pretty shitty xenophobic views – but I can list a bunch of people in my family who are the same (if not worse). I wouldn’t project the hate on them that she’s getting now. Anyway, since she’s paying a pretty high price for her faults, maybe she […]... Read More

Religious Music

Most of my friends are aware that I consider myself to be an evangelical antitheist. This means, that like atheists, I don’t hold any belief in any deity. It also means, that unlike many atheists, I hold a positive belief that there aren’t any gods, that the belief in such things is harmful to our society and that these views should be shared with everyone willing to listen. With that in mind, some of my friends and many acquaintances are surprised to learn that I really like religious music (mostly Christian actually). And I don’t mean only songs that are often played in secular crowds during the holidays like ‘White Christmas‘, or ‘Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas‘. While I do really like both of those songs (and play them frequently on the piano in mid July even), I also really like many overtly religious pieces — Cantique Noël, Silent […]... Read More

Student, again!

Despite advice to the contrary from this article, I am going back to school. I’ve now officially been enrolled in 3 of the 4 universities in Montreal (well, 4 is a stretch, let’s face it UQAM, you’re just an über CEGEP). The brainpickings article above does have some valid points, however I think it’s somewhat simplistic and naive to think that most or even many people would be better off without the traditional framework of academia. Most of the advice they give about forging your own path equally apply to students enrolled in a formal program as it does to independent, self-directed students. I’m now officially a Concordia student, in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences majoring in philosophy. Most of the material I’ll be covering (especially for the first half) is material I’ve already read or am currently reading on my own. However, after a certain point, it’s good […]... Read More

Dear voters, Please stay home.

As unpopular as this view might be to some, I will not be encouraging people to show up and vote. I think the arguments behind encouraging a greater voter turnout are flawed and unsound. Disclaimer: It’s no secret to most of my friends, that I am not a huge fan of democracy. This doesn’t make me a communist, nor does it mean that I support some other authoritarian or tyrannical government. For the moment, I would still say that democracy is our best option but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I just dislike it less than the other options. In my view, the biggest problem with democracy is not the concept of democracy itself, in fact, like many forms of government, it would probably be fantastic for Utopia. (An interesting aside on Sir Thomas More’s invention of the term Utopia — the word comes from the Greek: […]... Read More

Tyranny of Secularism

Pauline Marois’s Secularism Charter A recurring topic in provincial politics has come up again. Cynics say Pauline Marois and her minions are using the politics of division in order to gain votes and support by creating a false divide between pure laine Québecois and les éthiniques. While I generally despise cynicism and I would rather assume Hanlon’s Razor in cases like this, I can definitely see the source of their cynicism. Rather than infer purely bigoted motives on the part of the PQ and Marois, I do believe that they are seeking an inclusive (and unfortunately singular) society. Whatever their true motives are, the end result is division, intolerance and xenophobia. The ‘Atheist/Skeptic Community’ Bias Disclaimer: I find the idea of an ‘atheist community’ patently absurd. I’m a strong anti-theist, but I have no desire to embrace group-think or be in an ideological echo chamber to validate my own opinions. […]... Read More